What Next for Airtel Kenya?

The other day we saw Orange winding up its operations, ditching the Kenyan market. One thing we have to note is that most of these network providers are increasingly becoming redundant. There is a tonne of ideas out there that network providers can leverage on in order to increase their presence in the Kenyan market. I have a few steps that able network providers can tap and increase their subscribers and its something that is guaranteed to work.

1. Wi-Fi Hotspots
Nearly everyone in urban areas owns a smartphone. With Android, most of the cheap Chinese OEMs are bundled with Wi-Fi as opposed to 3G. There is even no need for networks to upgrade to 4G. In the United States, competition is stiff and service providers have Wi-Fi hotspots installed on their network boosters.

What does this mean? It implies that you need not to be a customer to the network that has installed a Wi-Fi hotspot to enjoy the internet. That means, Airtel can have its boosters installed with Wi-Fi, have competitive prices for their internet bundles (as in the case with Unliminet) and Safaricom subscribers (where bundles go MIA without notice) can purchase unliminet offers and use Wi-Fi to access the internet without the need of being on the Airtel network. People will also be encouraged to use Apps like Whats App and Vyber to make calls and save.

2. Shared bundles (Calls/Texts/Data)
This is another great feature in the United States. Whereas you are required to purchase individual plans per simcard, there can be an option whereby a team of three, four, or even ten family (or friends) can purchase a bundle of calls/texts/sms and share. For example, a team of 5 people purchase a bundle of 500mins calls/500 texts/2.5GB data at 2000 bob, it means each will contribute 400bob and they can share the bundle on their individual simcards. This plan can work best with Unliminet plans on Airtel.

3. One line, different simcards
We have people who have more than one gadget. A tablet, phone, a smartwatch, name them. A person can have a single line, lets say, 0733 000 000, as their number and have lets say, two more simcards bearing the same number. However, only one simcard is assigned to receive calls and texts. Other lines, can be made to receive data since people mostly use the simcards on tablets and smartwatches for data only.

4. Ditch Airtel money in favor of Equitel
Let’s face it. Equitel is currently behind Mpesa in mobile transactions. I mean, no need for Airtel to have Airtel Money. How about teaming up with Equitel and offering an Equitel menu on their simcards? After all, Equitel is a parasite that needs Airtel to carry out its operations. Trust me I have seen less than 10 Airtel money agents ever since the service was launched under Celtel? I can’t remember but in comparison with Equitel, there are more Equity Agents on every corner competing for that 1 sq meter space on the streets with Mpesa Agents.

With those few remarks, I believe there are more ideas that we can share and help the struggling networks out there make a turn around of their losses. What do you think the network should do? They should hire me and see what I can do in their marketing department.


I think the mobile money game is far from played out. Airtel may have a small agent network but money transfer is not the only thing they can compete in. The solutions being provided in the payements sector by saf [Lipa na Mpesa] contain enormous friction. Payments is a lucarative area where aitel can invest and dominate in if they move fast and provide exemplary user experience.

personally i think in a matter of less than a year they will be forced to ditch the kenyan market, orange under new management of helios will overtake Airtel kenya Airtel must forget focusing on great offers but rather quality of service, they cant overtake safaricom on great offers that can be easily replicated and if possible airtel kenya and orange kenya collaborate and introduce their own mobile money transfer service that with time can rival mpesa

Airtel need to focus on wifi and data as the next platform through 4G and portals,they should also start customizing their services to focus on getting many users using their data first through affordable plans.Then also create subsidiaries to focus on creating content and pushing it to users on subscription.Airtel needs to focus on creating a huge sustainable ecosystem around data use and engagement that monetizes using airtel money and/or MPESA,they need to move very fast and focus on the right demography