Compe-Time and I’m loving it!

Its a great time for the consumer when all the big companies are fighting for your attention (and a little bit of your money). Just such a situation is playing itself out in the business circles in Kenya where some previously unassailable corporate giants are being challenged. Of course for us consumers we can just smile and expect more choice and hopefully better deals as the big boys go to war.

Safaricom vs Celtel

Safaricom is the undisputed big boy in Kenya’s corporate scene enjoying massive profits and totally dominating the mobile phone scene however their composure seems to have been ruffled by their smaller competitor Celtel who have shed their rather elitist image and are now engaging in an all out war for the low end of the market with their new 3 shillings off peak off. Safaricom quickly responded by lowering their rates to 10 bob and launching the ill fated free calls between 9pm and 6am promotion. Very predictably the usually congested Safaricom network went into almost immediate meltdown with congestion once the offere started forcing them to revise the timings. Overall Celtel has superior call clarity, stable data conectivity and customer service call centre that is actually reachable and I think it will benefit by clinching those customers that value quality and reliability, however I still think Safaricom will retain its share of the mass market esp  due to M-Pesa which is for sure the key products that will make people stick there, but I hope they will now learn to be more responsive to customers demands rather than using its bigger numbers to lock in the customers its so easy to acquire another line. As for myself I remain unashamedly polygamous and I use both networks depending on what I am currently doing and should the other players come in soon I will welcome them with open arms, I find it funny when people argue about which network is better I have no loyalty whatsoever, what I pray for is that CCK will effect number portability so that I can migrate to any new network and retain my number (this will sort out those friends of mine on Safcom who swear they can’t call me on Celtel since they won’t know what network I’m using since the prefix will be meaningless)

EABL vs Coca Cola

Coca Cola have enjoyed a near monopoly in the soft drinks market in Kenya having ruthlessly dispensed of any upcoming competition such as Softa and Schweppes but now they have a battle on their hands with the brewing giants very loud entry into their niche with Alvaro which seems to have even exceeded their expectations. Coke countered by entering the Energy drinks market currently dominated by the EABL distributed Red Bull by launching Burn with a lot of flare. I will be keenly following this war and seeing how it will improve the situation at my local. I only wish someone else would come and offer some compe to EABL who are virtually a monopoly in the beer market I remember with fondness the Tusker vs Castle battle in the 90’s and the fact that beer prices did not go up for 5 years. Now I hear rumours that Breweries might also venture into the bottled water market quite an irony!


For over a decade DSTV has been the only provider of Satellite TV in Kenya and could literally dicatate what to charge to add to the ridiculously high cost of buying the equipment it is amazing how the cost of connection to Satellite TV could have dropped from 60,000 shillings only 2 years ago to now just over 5,000 shillings. The major cause has been the entry of a new provider GTV which announced its entry into the market by clinching the rights to 80% of the English Premier League which is immensly popular in Kenya. DSTV responded by offering cheaper bouquets and lowering the cost of equipment. In total I think DSTV still holds the edge i terms of the number and quality of Channels they have to offer but I see GTV catching up very soon. The competiton has also had an unexpected boost for local soccer as the 2 companies compete for rights to cover local tournaments currently DSTV’s Supersport has rights to the Kenya Premier Leagues while GTV has rights for the regional CECAFA tournament the net acheivement is that there will be more funds available for the various clubs and national teams from the sale of the rights which if used properly will herald teh development of a proper proffesional football scene locally and will stop this nonsense of people expecting the government to bail out local soccer federations with our tax money.

So if there is more competion out there in the offing, I say “Bring Them On!”


23 Responses

  1. Alvaro has truly captured everyone’s attention. That’s all I hear people ask for everywhere I go.

    Competition is super for the consumer. There should be a whole lot more of it.

    As for number portability, I say bring it on! It’s long overdue!

    I definately intend to enjoy the new offerings in the market, Number portability may be the only way for new entrants to survive

  2. I agree with you on the no loyalties. I’ve both lines so taking advantage whenever the offer exists. As for Alvaro, yaani the pear one when chilled is the best thing ever. I was at a wedding dinner in a pub, I swear 70% of drinks taken were Alvaro.

    You don’t have to swear I believe you even here in Embu the drink is in such high demand that it is often out of supplu

  3. Competion is good. What happened to Virgin Atlantic & KQ wars?

    Other wars: Big banks Vs Equity….

    I had Equity in mind as well, I am informed that the Competition is really between Virgin Atlantic and BA, in fact Virgin have a deal with KQ on forward connections to certain destinations.

  4. This wars are just the best thing… Does anyone remember sometime back when a safaricom call could go for as much as 54/= per minute at peak hours! and Now people call for 10/=… EABL has just won with Alvaro, everyone takes it wherever I go… I hope the competition gets to the politicians too… with ODM and PNU ministers trying to offer the best service to the people… with that everyone will win!!!

    I remember by the way I was comparing the current Tarrifs available and I find that Safaricom has the highest tarrif of 25 bob to other networks, I think the problem with politics is too much compe even on matters where there should be none.

  5. I love the competition too…

    Alvaro has become my one and only drink…it is cool coz it is not soda, and neither is it alcohol( am a teetotaller, sort of..)

    What is a ‘sort of teetotaller’? 😉

    as for celtel, i don’t like opening up my fone and exchaning sim cards every other day, so i guess until i get another fone, i’ll stick to safcom, though it sucks(have u ever tried their customer care?)
    time for that number portability thing..prices should come hurtling down…

    On switching sims I agree it is a bother fortunately I just got a cheap offer phone for alternative use with the added bonus that if caught in a hijack situation and I am asked to chomoa the phone I can always give the cheap one…..just a thought!

    i agree with ur Big banks Vs Equity, when i wanted to open an account, i didn’t have my ID yet (i wanted an account i could access), but i had a printout from the immigration office with all my details (my ID processing was in its final stages), but the BIG Banks refused to let open one. might i add the printout even has the ID number??
    anway, u guessed it, am now an Equity customer, but i never make the mistake of going to the bank at the end of the month…beside, my business with the bank is mostly withdrawal…so i do it at odd hours from the 24 hr atms

  6. With such a competition (Celtel is amongst the three mobile operators here in Madagascar too), networks tend t be congestioned or emptied according to ephemeral pricing policies. My two cents… either use many mobile networks, either stick with the one you use if you’re satisfied. But.. please… don’t shift networks. The one who is congestioned today will be the best of tomorrow (because its competitors would have apply an ephemeral low end policy to draw clients, in their turn, will face congestion too). Inversely, the best of today will attract more users, hence a future congestion. As long as they don’t invest to deal with lots of traffic (optic fibers and so on), I think they are all the same. Good today, bad tomorrow and vice-versa. No ?

    In Kenya Safaricom is HUGE almost 90% and I don’t think the competition will do too much damage to its numbers, but I don’t think that it is necessary for everyone to move and crowd the other networks there are some that value the convenience of smaller efficient networks. Thank you for visiting!

  7. Ati you have no loyalty? You’ve stuck with your Kencell/ celtel line all through and are always dissing safcon- the bitter option. Celtel are superior in every way just that they have a poor marketing machine. Safcom are running scare now, wh will happen when the new boys come to town? watch out!

    I have had a Safcon line for just as long its just that the service at my place is horrid but I will use it on weekends for social calls. Celtel is not going to overturn the tables on Safcom but it will definately steal some of the high value customers

    Somebody said Virgin vs KQ- hakuna compe hapo…

  8. Oh an I forgot GTV are looking good with the new G series- nostalgic watching old episodes of friends and the Fresh Prince of Bel-air, the clothes and hairstyles are even funnier than the jokes!

  9. oh the pain!
    of satellite tv, for those who ventured early.

    Its the same with everything thats new including mobile phones.

    alvaro, anyone?

  10. sasa with cheap dishes for GTV si watakuwa na congestion on their satellites? D.E.A.D.


  11. I wouldn’t invest in any of them, they don’t have the roots to survive.

  12. How about Blue Band and Biddy’s Margarine?

    There is one of those margarines I tried but then It wasn’t all that good but if the price is lower I’m sure it will make an impact.

  13. I have seen some Chinese no-names phones circulating in SA that have twin sim. But it is not like the one 3310 had in Kenya where only one card worked at a time, this one both cards work, caller Id 1 and caller Id 2. You can weka caltel and safcom and be reachable on any all the time. Anyone with $200?

    They are also here too but I can’t trust any phone that puts a logo with “Bluetooth duo core” however there is a Samsung with dualsimms but it is too expensive yet it is not a smartphone so I am not too tempted. I bet if Nokia or SE ventured into dual simm phones they will be a hit

    As for the famous Alvaro, why is the image not gugabo?

  14. Interesting write up!!!


  15. @31337
    ati GTV will have congestion..he he..

    a ‘sort of’ teetotaller is one with a potential to drink but has not yet exploited it, make sense? maybe they never will, maybe they will

    Now I get it, I am also a ‘sort of mlevi’ then LOL!

  16. oh, and for the Sim cards, I should get a cheeeap fone for the celtel line, problem is i probably wouldn’t walk around with it..

  17. 31337 Alvaro any time. It’s just the coolest. I still have beef with returning bottles though. I get my supply from Nakumat and i have to round up empty machupas every time I want to go buy Alvaro. Better still they bring it to the neighborhood shops and mama boga kiosks.

    Funnilly enough this weekend I bought one at a roadside Coke kiosk!

    Coca cola’s Burn is 100 bob around the same price as redbull. someone needs to come up with a high quality energy drink but cheaper. One that does not taste like syrup. I’ve not tasted burn yet. I think I’ll buy one today.

    Wanja I’ve been unable to tear myself away from good old blueband. even other brands like jik, kimbo and stuff we grew up with I just find myself buying the same. Only Omo I gave up after it morphed for like the 10th time. I gues i have some loyalty after all. For some reason I still use only safcom even knowing there’re cheaper rates on the other side.

    Kirima DSTV any time. I still think it’s the better deal but then again I’m not a football fan so you can see where I’m coming from. Or maybe I’m just used to it. Haki shame on them lakini – they actually used to charge 60k for equipment and installation some time?

    Yes they did and not too long ago either the first time they lowered their fees was for the last world cup when they came down to 30k but since then they have been having a permanenet special offer

    Oops Kirima I’ve written like a whole article! I’ve taken over your blog lol. It’s the topic that is so sweet to discuss don’t worry.

    Blog away!!! you are welcome

  18. i too say bring them on!

  19. Very good write up, Monte! Well analysed. I have a pending post about number portability and how, if introduced, it would hurt Safaricom in a big way while benefitting Celtel. The majority of Safaricom subscribers are totally fed up with their services, but are unable to switch to Celtel fully coz everyone has their Sararicom number.

    In South Africa, the 3 networks Vodacom, MTN & Cell C introduced number portability about 3 or 4 years ago. I don’t think it’s a very difficult thing to implement, but Safaricom KNOW they will suffer if they introduce it.

    I bought my 0722 line back in 2001 when they were kedo 2,500 bob. I’m obviously very attached to it, but other than everyone I care about knowing my number offhead, the only other reason why I’m still Suffering is M PESA. Celtel need to do something about Sokotele, that’s if it still exists. I use my Celtel line for internet access coz as you said, it’s more reliable.

    Unfortunately Celtel is one company that never misses an opportunity to lose an opportunity, with its strong regional prescence it can be able to push the money transfer business into a pan african exchange system, only downside is that it will soon get flooded with Nigerian phone extortion scams

    Then, ati you’re moving to where?

    I’m not moving anywhere!

  20. My bad! I read “Compe Time and I’m moving out!”

  21. First i should say EABL doesnt distribute Red Bull it is distributed by some Coastarian guy. But that said Alvaro is actually it its a fantastic drink and counting the number of people who might not necessarily drink its perfect. As for EABL the monopoly Keroche should be launching a brand of beer very soon so we do hope EABL will finally have someone challenging their market dominance.

    As for Safaricom vs Celtel maybe very soon that will change to Safaricom Vs Celtel vs Econet vs Orange!

  22. wonder why no one has mentioned novida as coke’s answer to the Alvaro question,, in differente flavours, needless to say

    i drink none of the above but i have a boy who will novida any give time of day

    hiyo jibu was quite an answer eh

    as for safaricom, its subscribers behave like a typical wife, they know they can get better but they married and comitted already.. makes it hard for me to make 75cents calls ei

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