Airtel Networks Kenya has taken aim at regulator the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK), alleging bias in favour of Airtel’s rival Safaricom.
In a petition to Kenya’s parliament, Airtel has accused the CAK of ignoring market dominance by Safaricom.
By the end of June Safaricom apparently claimed 64 per cent of the local market, more than double Airtel’s 27 per cent share. Telkom Kenya has seven percent of the market. The gap could have been smaller by now but, as readers will be aware, Airtel abandoned a planned merger with Telkom Kenya last year , citing unacceptable conditions and delays in receiving regulatory approvals.
Part of Airtel’s argument is that declaring one or more players dominant has already happened in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
It appears that in Burkina Faso Airtel and Telmob were declared dominant, while Congo Brazzaville declared MTN and Airtel dominant. In Nigeria MTN was declared dominant. In all these cases the market share of the dominant players was just under 40 percent, except for Nigeria where the share was 44 percent.
Airtel points out that Safaricom has a larger share of the Kenyan market and that declaring Safaricom dominant would be the first step towards ensuring market competitiveness.
It also insists that there has been bias in the allocation of spectrum, with Safaricom holding much more than its rivals, and wants a review (presumably downwards) of the mobile termination rate (MTR) which has apparently remained at Sh0.99 (just under one US cent) for the past six years.
How serious a declaration of dominance would be is a moot point as the CAK has, to date, shown little interest in accusing Safaricom of unfair competitive practices.