Short message service (SMS) traffic grew by a massive 3 billion units in the quarter to June, fuelled by a frenzy of students communicating with each other during the two-month school holiday break between March and May.
Fresh data by the Communications Authority(CA) shows the number of SMSs sent across the three local networks hit 13.9 billion in the three months to June 2022, up from 10.9 billion in the quarter to March.
“The volume of domestic short messages increased by 27.8 percent to 13.97 billion from 10.93 billion recorded during the third quarter. This change is attributed to the long school holiday from the end of March to May 22. The ratio of on-net to off-net SMS was 89:11,” CA stated.
Of the 13.9 billion SMSs sent, 12.6 billion were on Kenya’s largest telecommunications firm, Safaricom, with Airtel and Telkom Kenya trailing with 1.3 billion and 52 million SMSs respectively.
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SMSs through Safaricom shot up by 2.8 billion (29 percent) from 9.77 billion SMSs sent during the three months to March 2022, with Airtel seeing its SMS traffic raise from 1.09 billion to 1.3 billion.
The craze by students was driven by the holiday, granted as Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) candidates sat for the national examination in April necessitating schools to be closed for students in other classes.
As parents faced hard decisions on how to contain their children, many of them teenagers, many appear to have found solace in communicating with friends through mobile phones, which is now reflected in the performance of mobile network operators.
The report also shows that Safaricom continues to dominate the local mobile voice and SMS market, with its share of the voice market staying beyond 90 percent.
“During the reference period, Safaricom PLC recorded the highest market shares in domestic mobile voice and SMS at 90.3 percent and 66.3 percent, respectively. Jamii Telecommunications Ltd recorded the least market shares at 0.0 percent,” CA stated.
Airtel’s share of the voice market, on the other hand, stood at 31.9 percent and 9.3 percent of the SMS market.
Kenya had a total of 59.7 million phones by June 30, 2022, comprising of 32.9 million feature phones and 26.8 million smartphones.
“The penetration rates for feature phones and smartphones computed as a percentage of the total population were 66.6 and 54.3 percent, respectively,” CA said.
In terms of mobile money services, Kenyans increased values transacted on the phones in all categories, but the government reduced with values of government-to-customer transfers going down by 64 percent Sh882.9 million to Sh310.6 million.
Deposits increased from Sh1.26 trillion to Sh1.43 trillion, person-to-person transfers from Sh1.11 trillion to Sh1.15 trillion, while the value of customer-to-business transfers increased highest by 16.4 percent from Sh1.3 trillion to Sh1.6 trillion.