KENYA:Remove extra charges for mobile money users - state

A new report recommends mobile money service providers should abolish extra charges for unregistered users and allow users to send money across the networks at no extra cost.

It specifically notes that Safaricom, which controls more than 80 per cent of the mobile money market, should abolish extra charges for those sending money to Airtel and Orange subscribers.

The report says this will help address barriers that prevent healthy competition in the Kenya mobile money market.

It also recommends a system where agents can support multiple mobile money platforms using a single float.

The report - Telecommunication competition market study in Kenya - was commissioned by the Communications Authority of Kenya and was released in Nairobi yesterday.

It was prepared by Analysys Mason, a UK-based consulting and research firm specialising in telecoms, media and digital services.

“It is based on our interactions with the CA and other stakeholders between 24 May 2016 and 12 May 2017 including industry meetings, data requests and numerous exchanges including formal submissions from stakeholders,” said Stéphane Piot, a partner with the firm.

The draft was initially released to mobile firms last year to for them to make their recommendations. It also proposed functional separation of Safaricom and M-Pesa.

CA invited the public to debate the current report promising to include their views in the final report, before it is formally adopted by the authority.

“We are aware that this issue is quite technical and emotive, thus some key aspects of the process and its intentions can be misinterpreted or taken out of context,” the authority said in a statement.

Information Cabinet Joe Mucheru said the government was not planning to split any business.

“The Government through the Authority is not planning to split the businesses of players who are alleged or perceived to be dominant. It is not the Government’s intention to punish success but enhance competition so as to foster growth of the telecommunications subsector and indeed the wider ICT sector,” he said.

However, he urged CA to to develop pre-emtive safeguards to prevent any potential abuse of dominance.

He said the lack of such safeguards can perpetuate the abuse of dominance to the detriment of sectoral growth, investments and consumer welfare.

“Studies and practice in other parts of the globe have shown that dominance in any market

segment is not by itself an offence. It is the abuse and the potential of abuse of dominance that must be regulated,” he said.

Acting CAK boss Christopher Kemei said the analysis would help them to promote and enforce fair competition and equality of treatment practices among licensees in order to protect ICT consumers and investors.

“Certainly, it is only fair that we make such crucial decisions from an informed point of view and hence the need for such detailed market studies,” he said.