The number of mobile phones in Kenya fell by 397,429 between January and March 2023, according to the latest data from the Communications Authority (CA), the first decline since the industry trends report was launched in 2022.
As of March 2023, the number of mobile devices stood at 62.9 million, down 0.63 per cent from the previous quarter (September to December 2022), with smartphones recording the steepest decline, accounting for 64 per cent of the total.
"The total number of mobile handsets at the end of the reference period was 62.96 million. This represents a penetration rate of 124.5 per cent. The penetration for feature phones and smartphones was 66.2 per cent and 58.3 per cent respectively," the CA said in its latest report.
The authority does not give reasons for the decline in the number of devices and had not responded to the Nation's queries by the time of going to press.
Despite the decline in devices, the number of SIM cards registered in the country increased marginally by 0.5 per cent from 65.7 million to 66.1 million during the period under review.
Pre-paid subscribers account for the lion's share at 64.7 million, or 98 per cent of the total SIM cards, while 1.3 million are classified as post-paid.
Safaricom PLC still has the lion's share of registered users at 66 per cent, followed by Airtel Kenya at 27 per cent and Telkom Kenya at 4.2 per cent.
However, the authority notes that there has been a decline in the SIM card penetration rate mainly due to the revision of the country's population size as per the Economic Survey of 2023.
"This resulted in a mobile (SIM) penetration rate of 130.5 per cent, a decline of 2.6 percentage points. The decline in the penetration rate is attributed to the revision of the country's population size from 49.4 million to 50.6 million as per the Economic Survey of 2023," the authority said.
The report further shows that the number of mobile money subscriptions declined between the two quarters, closing at 38.4 million compared to 38.6 million in the quarter ending December 2022.
This decline occurred despite the fact that the number of registered mobile money agents increased by 3.9 per cent from 318,607 in December 2022 to 331,065 in March 2023.
"Mobile money subscriptions stood at 38.4 million, representing a penetration rate of 76 per cent, a decline of 2.2 percentage points. The decline in subscriptions is attributed to reduced activity in mobile money services during the quarter under review," the authority said.
During the period under review, the total mobile data consumed by registered users was 208,565 gigabytes (GBs), an increase of 21 per cent compared to the volume of data consumed in the same period last year.