Communications Commission of Kenya has fangs, yet it won’t bite

Who would have thought that a straightforward issue of reducing the costs mobile phone networks charge each other to terminate calls on their networks, also known as the mobile termination rate (MTR), would turn out to be a such a hassle that has sucked in even President Mwai Kibaki?

Basically, the MTR was set to fall to Ksh1.44 per minute in 2012 from Ksh2.21 in 2011, to Ksh1.15 in 2013 and Ksh0.99 in 2014. But allegedly, Nick Wanjohi, the president’s private secretary, wrote on behalf of the head of state ordering the Ministry of Information to stop the implementation of the drop to Ksh1.44 per minute this year until a study on costs is done and sent to the Office of the President for consideration. Safaricom and Orange have protested against the planned reductions.

As an online agency of advertising, Pamoja Media is concerned not just about the political interference in an industry where the regulator, the Communications Commission of Kenya, should be the referee; but also the fact that Kenya’s current 30 million mobile subscribers are still being held hostage to almost-usurious inter-network calling rates despite the widespread adoption of mobile telephony.

Fine, mobile operators have introduced bundles that allow you to surf the internet on your mobile phone without eating into your airtime, a boost to companies that are advertising on the internet because potential consumers will stay on their mobisites longer. But, it’s inevitable you will have to call a company with inquiries before you confirm your order because mobisites usually don’t carry all information about a company’s products or services thanks to the small size of your phone’s screen. Most likely you will either have to call a Safaricom or Airtel line, and it’s highly unlikely companies have Yu and Orange lines too. If you subscribe to the smaller networks and your surfing the internet costs are billed in cents per mb, picture your inter-network calling rates skyrocketing to shillings per minute because some operators aren’t willing to pass down the the benefits of economies of scale to you in the form of a similarly low MTR.

We believe that high MTR rates not just in Kenya but in East Africa are an unacceptable barrier not just to communication, but also to the growth and success of companies advertising in the internet in Africa via mobisites. That’s the main reason we request the CCK, which is a constitutional body, to assert its independence from the Executive by reducing the long-overdue MTR for the sake of both Kenya’s 30 million subscribers and businesses already advertising in the internet or planning to.

If your brand needs a partner to solve your mobile advertising problems, please send us a note or call +254 717 514 477.

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