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Why Jamii Telecom’s Faiba 4G Unlikely To End Safaricom’s Dominance But A Game Changer For Kenya

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Joshua Chepkwony, Jamii Telkom M.D. during the Faiba 4G launch in Nairobi.

Safaricom remains the telecommunication giant in Kenya with a market share of 71.2 percent in Kenya according to 2016 second quarter statistics report by the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) this translates to about 28M active subscribers. This leaves other players like Airtel, Telkom Kenya, and Equitel with mere 28.8 percent share scramble.

Jamii Telecoms Ltd is the latest entry into the Mobile Operator market making it the 5th entrant. With a 4G market launch, Faiba has caused serious ripples with many analysts saying it could be the game changer to Safaricom’s dominance that has been in play for more than a decade. However, it is easier said than done, we’ve seen several companies come and go citing unfair market environment attributed to the Saf’s dominance.

Faiba 4G is however not a usual launch, in a country with estimated 86% internet penetration with about 41M Kenyans accessing the internet and majority through their smartphones, Jamii Telecoms saw a perfect opportunity. Famed for the Faiba broadband home and businesses high-speed internet connectivity, they already have a ground with over 120K subscribers to kick them off.

During the launch of Faiba 4G

The Communication Authority of Kenya awarded Jamii the prestigious 4G spectrum amidst complaints, especially from Safaricom that it was unprocedural and that the company didn’t pay the required Sh2.5B for the 4G license. So far only Safaricom and Telkom Kenya have acquired the 800MHz spectrum, Airtel still at 3.75G. Despite the complaints of favoritism, Faiba 4G is officially live with mind-boggling data price tags.

A look at JTL’s pricing signals competitive times ahead: 1GB data bundles will cost Sh50 (valid for one day), 70GB at Sh3,000 (valid for a month) and 210 GB at Sh6,000 for a month as well.

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Safaricom on the other hand offers 150MB for Sh50 (valid for a day), 1GB for Sh500 (valid for a month) and 12GB at Sh3,000 (valid for a month).

Airtel’s 1GB 24-hour data bundle costs subscribers Sh99, 6GB costs Sh1,000 (valid for a month) and 24GB goes for Sh3,000 (valid for a month).

Safaricom which offers highest internet speed compared to its competitors yet have highest data prices in the market is viewed as the main target as Faiba seeks to take a huge chunk of the share. Faiba 4G operates on band 28, 700MHz frequency spectrum, this is both great news and bad. First, it’s great since it will give consumers miraculous internet speeds, from tests, we’ve learned the Faiba 4G speeds goes up to 72Mbps, it also has higher penetration capabilities like into buildings as compared to the 800MHz spectrum now used by Safaricom and Telkom.

Secondly, Faiba 4G is limiting in so many ways; device selectivity, only those with 4G enabled phones with VoLTE features will be able to access their internet or their own Faiba mobile. Most Kenyans own budget smartphones that aren’t necessarily 4G VoLTE enabled thereby limiting the number of people able to use their services.

VoLTE stands for voice over LTE and it’s more or less exactly what it says on the tin. It’s voice calls over a 4G LTE network, rather than the 2G or 3G connections which are usually used. The big advantage of VoLTE is that call quality is superior to 3G or 2G connections as far more data can be transferred over 4G than 2G or 3G.

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Faiba 4G promises lifetime on-net calls as long as you have an active data bundle, while this sounds appetizing, it is also limiting that such calls can only happen if both have VoLTE enabled phones and within 4G area, when network signal weakens, the call quality is reduced or disconnects.

Faiba 4G’s mi-fi

So far, there’s no provider that beats Faiba 4G’s data bundles but the biggest headache that will stall their immediate boom is the device selectivity and also network reachability. Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret, Mombasa, and Thika are covered by the Faiba 4G with 300 bases and a plan to extend the bases to 1000 in the next 3 years.

Disrupting Safaricom’s dominance is not a walk in the sand and needs more than a flashy launch with heavenly offers. Reliability, reachability, innovations are some of Safaricom’s confidence zones that have seen them stand firm in the market. Mpesa remains one of re greatest innovations by Safaricom that has made it East Africa’s giant. Kenya, for instance, is synonymous with mobile transactions, the economy is literally running on Mpesa with billions moved across the platform annually.

Mpesa actually could as well be Safaricom’s biggest asset that keeps it afloat. We’ve seen Airtel money even with zero rate transactions, unable to beat of Mpesa, not for anything but reliability, agents are spread all over the country and it’s not a hustle to access your money compared to other providers. Therefore, if Faiba 4G is to hack this, then they must not play the same cards by competitors that have failed but come up with new innovations and strategies to level Mpesa dominance. Faiba Money is set for launch as well. Accessibility of Safaricom network even in the most of remote areas also makes it stand out and a major preference, if Jamii can invest heavily to match up the reach then they’re in the right lane to beat it off.

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According to the management, all is not lost for Faiba 4G as they’re likely to change bands from 700MHz depending on the availability of frequencies, this will obviously increase their reach and capture more customers angry for affordable data services. We’re also told they have solid strategies that will spread over the next coming years to totally disrupt and maul a good share of the market. As it stands, it’s a wait and sees situation.

Coming months, Kenyans are likely to witness a brutalizing corporate war as Faiba, Safaricom, Telkom fight for customers loyalty and the data market share. As the giants engage in the brawl, consumers can sit back and expect affordable, quality data services, a competitive market is often a blessing to the consumers. Safaricom is unlikely to let go easily what they have and so is Telkom, Airtel and Equitel both who’re struggling to rise. Faiba 4G as the new entrant has to go an extra mile to make an impact in the market but until then the market is open but literally a one man’s show.


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Kenya West is a trained investigative independent journalist and a socio-political commentator on matters Kenya and Africa. Send me tips to [[email protected]]

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With Sh2B Investment, Taaleri Set To Purchase 20 Per Cent Of Cytonn Real Estate Project

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Cytonn CEO Edwin Dande

On 8th November 2018, Cytonn held a client cocktail meeting at the Nairobi Serena Hotel. The forum served as a platform to enable Cytonn celebrate the ongoing successful partnership with Taaleri, its institutional investor, while also providing an opportunity for Cytonn clients to interact directly with The Cytonn Board and Taaleri.

A section of attendees during the cocktail

“This forum is meant to celebrate the great milestone we have had in our relationship with Taaleri. It will be a platform to get to know what we are doing as Cytonn, The Board and Taaleri as well as get to respond to any questions our clients may have around the firm’s governance,” said Edwin H. Dande, Cytonn’s CEO during the forum.

Edwin H. Dande, Cytonn’s CEO

“With the continued attractive investment opportunity in Kenya and the region, and the committed team at Cytonn, Taaleri has this year invested a further Kshs. 2bn in our Real Estate projects, and are now looking to purchase 20% of Cytonn during our IPO,” said Prof. Daniel M. Njiru, Cytonn’s Board Chairman and Vice Chancellor at Embu University, during the forum.

Prof. Daniel M. Njiru, Cytonn Group’s Board Chairman

He further said that, “The listing of Cytonn will only serve to increase our levels of governance, risk management, disclosure and transparency. As a Board, we are supporting Management on the listing, and would like to congratulate them for taking the firm to these heights.”

Prof. Daniel M. Njiru also introduced members of the various Boards at Cytonn, which are The Cytonn Group Board, Cytonn Asset Managers Limited (CAML) Board, Cytonn Hospitality Board, the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) Boards and The Cytonn Education Board.

A representation of The Cytonn Group, Affiliates and Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) Boards

Kati Salo, Taaleri Africa Team representative, reaffirmed the Cytonn – Taaleri partnership. “As a Risk Manager, I am confident about the risk position of the firm and I can sleep well knowing that my investments are in good hands,” she remarked.

Prof. Daniel M. Njiru engaging with a client

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Cytonn Opens Doors To The Public As They Unveil The Ridge Show House

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The Ridge.

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, CytonnInvestments is holding an open day on Saturday for clients and members of the public on site at The Ridge.

The show house for the project will be unveiled, giving guests a preview of what the finished product will be like. Visitors get to sample the distinct and magnificent lifestyle development and ask the management questions on any issues about Cytonn’s activities.

The event will run from 12 noon to 4 pm, so that clients have enough time to explore the site, view the show house, and interact with the management of Cytonn.

The Ridge.

Alongside the open day, the company is offering a 5% discount for early buyers, which will run for a limited time. Interested guests are advised to sign up and reserve their slots before spaces run out.

This project was made for people who want to live in luxury and style, at surprisingly affordable rates. The list of amenities goes on and on, but I think the best part about it is the location. Imagine living just a few minutes from Windsor Golf Club, Two Rivers Mall, UNEP headquarters, and only 10 km from town!

The luxury project will have 1,2,3 & 3 bedroom apartments withdomestic servants’ quarters (DSQ).

Just a few months ago, Cytonn handed over the Amara in Karen, another of its projects, which is currently 100% complete and sold, proving they have what it takes to deliver beautiful, exclusive homes that perceptive Kenyans can enjoy.

If you want to buy a home or to invest, this is your opportunity! You cannot afford to miss out. RSVP here.

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Cytonn and Taaleri of Finland Enhance Their Partnership via Agreement for Subscription of 20% Cytonn Stake

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Signing of agreement.

Cytonn Investments Management Plc (‘Cytonn’), the leading alternative investment management firm in the East African Region, has today entered into a transaction with its leading institutional partner, Taaleri of Finland, whereby Taaleri has acquired the option to subscribe for up to 20% of Cytonn. Upon consummation, the transaction enhances the Cytonn & Taaleri relationship beyond project finance to shareholding.

This will be the 5th time the Finnish firm will be investing with Cytonn, having already committed over Kshs 5.0 bn towards projects and investments with Cytonn, namely The Alma, The Ridge, Situ Village and Amara Ridge, which has already been delivered to homeowners. In addition to their investments, Taaleri has already successfully received back its investments from Amara Ridge and The Alma, underlining Cytonn’s commitment to deliver above-average returns in real estate for global institutional investors.

Taaleri is a financial group, whose parent company Taaleri Oyj’s shares are listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Taaleri manages investments worth Kshs 813 bn and provides funding in the capital-intensive real estate sector in Africa through two Africa dedicated real estate funds.

Speaking at the signing of the agreement, Edwin H. Dande, CEO of Cytonn Investments, noted that “We are thankful to Taaleri for the continued support they have shown to the Cytonn brand. This transaction is important for two reasons; first it affirms market confidence in our brand and unique business model, and second it provides a strong anchor investor as we prepare for our IPO, which we hope to complete next year, either at a local or global exchange. We have already engaged with two sets of transaction advisors, in Nairobi and London, to explore a local listing either at the Nairobi Securities Exchange, NSE, or a listing at the London Stock Exchange, LSE, respectively. The ultimate listing jurisdiction will depend on valuation, investor interest and ease of listing. We also hope to broaden our partnerships by bringing on board one additional local or global anchor institutional investor at the IPO.”

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Speaking at the signing, Mr. Juhani Elomaa, CEO of Taaleri Group, who recently visited Cytonn’s real estate projects noted that “Taaleri and Cytonn are now in their fifth year of partnership, and Cytonn remains our trusted partner for deploying capital to the East African Region. Through Cytonn, Finnish Pension Funds and Investors have not only earned attractive returns that are not available in the developed markets, but we have contributed to growing the Kenyan economy, creating jobs, and driving the deepening of capital markets through structured finance transactions. The share options agreement for a 20% stake is an opportunity to deepen the relationship beyond project finance to shareholding.”

Cytonn Investments Management Plc is an independent investment management firm, with offices in Nairobi – Kenya and D.C. Metro – U.S.l and are primarily focused on offering alternative investment solutions to individual high net-worth investors, global and institutional investors and Kenyans in the diaspora interested in the high-growth East-African region. They currently have over Kshs 82.0 billion of investments and projects under mandate, mainly in real estate.

Cytonn Real Estate is Cytonn’s development affiliate, which is focused on developing institutional grade real estate targeted at specific institutional, high net-worth and Diaspora investors. Collective, Cytonn Investments and Cytonn Real Estate manage over Kshs 82.0 billion of real estate projects.


Kenya Insights allows guest blogging, if you want to be published on Kenya’s most authoritative and accurate blog, have an expose, news, story angles, human interest stories, drop us an email on tips.kenyainsights@gmail.com or via Telegram
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