New tax pushes up Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom tariff costs

It will cost you more to communicate after all telecom firms in Kenya reviewed upwards their cost of voice, data and SMS.

The move follows the coming into force of Finance Act 2021, which raised the rate of excise duty on telephone and internet data services to 20 per cent from 15 per cent.

Subsequently, telco giant Safaricom headline voice call rate has increased to Kes4.87 during peak hours from a lower Kes3.50 previously.

The firm’s rate of calls during off-peak hours has meanwhile increased to Kes 2.50 from a lower Kes1.80.

Further, the cost of sending an SMS has meanwhile shot to Kes1.20 from 87 cents. The price of lowest bandwith for fibre to the home at 8 mbps has meanwhile increased to Kes2,999.

“Pricing for all personal postpaid including Karibu PostPay and all corporate postpaid products and services including Zidisha Plus, Cloud, Security, Collocation, and IoT have been revised accordingly. This shall be reflected in the next monthly invoice,” said Safaricom in a note to customers.

At the moment, Safaricom network supports roughly 8.5 million 4G smartphones.

Read also: Why rise in data, airtime tax will hit Kenya’s digital economy hard

At the same time, both Airtel and Telkom Kenya companies have raised their headline voice call rate to Kes2.78.

The cost of sending an SMS on a Telkom line has shot to Kes1.15 while the cost of browsing without data bundles stands at Kes4.50 per megabyte (MB).

However, all three operators have left the prices of voice and data bundle purchases as unchanged.

Analysts say the new tax is likely to hurt innovation and jobs in Kenya – especially for the self-employed individuals who rely on affordable internet connectivity to run their virtual shops.

The new tax is also likely to hit the use of e-government services considering Kenya has been rising her reliance on digital platforms to collect tax, run human resource and payroll, conduct procurement while also providing key services under virtual platform, e-citizen, where services such as issuing a driver’s license, birth certificates, passports and property transfer is undertaken.

Other services such as payment of parking and business license fees are done online, and the tax hike will affect data costs which will in turn affect internet access and the penetration levels.

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