Telkom Kenya banks on dominance rules for fair rivalry

Telkom Kenya says it is banking on the government to enforce the report on dominance in the telecoms sector to enable the loss-making operator to make money.

The firm Tuesday unveiled its new look, dropping the Orange brand and colours in favour of a new trading name, Telkom. The rebranding is backed by a new strategy that focuses on infrastructure and data service expansion.

The company, however, warned that the strategic shift could amount to little unless there are policy changes to ensure that the local telecoms market becomes competitive enough to facilitate the growth of smaller players.

“If we continue the way we have, then it would mean that we don’t make money and we will not be able to expand and we will not be sustainable,” said Telkom Kenya chairman Eddy Njoroge in Nairobi on Tuesday.

“There is need for scrutiny and consideration in the sector in order to ensure fair competition because the question we ask is how can investors get a return where a market is skewed?…We know the same is been addressed through the ministry and the authority, and we are waiting to see the results of the discussions which are ongoing,” he said.

Mr Njoroge said Telkom had made submissions on a study on the telecoms market, a draft copy of which had found Safaricom #ticker:SCOM to be a dominant player. The report did not, however, find Safaricom to have abused its dominance, which is ordinarily a pre-requisite for passing punitive measures against a dominant player.

“We were a sleeping giant. But in the last 12 months we’ve worked hard to turn around the business and to prepare for the future. Today the giant is awake,” said Telkom chief executive, Mr Aldo Mareuse.

Mr Mareuse said Telkom Kenya has a four-year growth plan although he declined to provide clear projections on when the company expects to return to profitability.

Telkom Kenya on Tuesday launched 4G data in nine towns, becoming the second Kenyan telco to offer the high speed Internet services. 

The company is offering free WhatsApp services for a yet to be defined period and free 4G services for a month as it seeks to draw in new customers. Telkom Kenya also has a ‘Home Plan’ which offers discounted residential Internet services.

Shedding the Orange brand has been in the works since June last year when private equity firm Helios took up majority stake in Telkom Kenya. 

Over the past one year, the company says it has injected Sh5 billion ($50 million) into the company, increasing its network coverage by nearly 50 per cent from 1,100 sites to 1,600 sites.

Revealed: What killed Mumias Sugar manager Ronald Lubya

10,000 youth to be trained on securing freelance jobs