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Africa Outlook

Airtel
Kenya

AIRTEL KENYA

Kenya's champion for communications coverage



Airtel aims to connect communities across Kenya by providing affordable, relevant and innovative mobile solutions to all

Writer Matt Bone
Project manager Donovan Smith

Since 2010, Airtel Kenya have gone from strength to strength while maintaining and evolving it strong customer values and competitive services. Airtel Kenya has shown their ambition and drive with a 17% share of the highly competitive and lucrative telecommunications market in Kenya. Shivan Bhargava, the Managing Director of Airtel Kenya since 2012, puts this growth down to two key factors: highly trained staff and competitive products. "We pride ourselves on training our staff to be all that they can be and to give our customers the perfect experience of our products and services. Secondly we offer consumers competitive services and products that will enable them achieve more in their daily lives"

High speed Coverage
Airtel Kenya's network coverage currently stands at more than 85% of the population and they are targeting a 95% reach in the next 12-15 months. The company have invested over kes8.5 billion in support of network expansion, infrastructure and access in urban and rural Kenya for voice, internet services and mobile commerce, including the launch of Airtel money and the super fast 3.75g data network.

Airtel is making mobile communications available and affordable for all and giving people the freedom to achieve their goals; "our customers will experience the same familiar brand and enjoy the same quality of service, reliability, innovation and affordability wherever they live, work or travel." explains Bhargava.

With the launch of its 3.75g platform in February 2012, Airtel introduced the fastest mobile internet in Kenya, offering its customers the latest global High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) plus technology. Speeds of 21 mbps, the same speeds as in Europe and the USA, were available in all the major towns in Kenya. It is the fastest 3g available and has been enormously beneficial for a variety of internet and data users including large corporations, local business and social media conscious youth.

Bhargava says this can soon become the standard for the entire country. "The 3.75g will soon become the standard data speed for consumers, as we look to ensure that it is fully accessible to all customers through the extension of its availability from the core business centres in the key cities to residential areas and social locations for use by families and friends to connect on social media with ease."

The company will continue to roll out its quality data network across all of Kenya with the objective of building the fastest and largest 3g network across the country coupled with offering innovative and convenient services in response to customer motivations.

Not Just Mobile Communications
Airtel have partnered with several banks in Kenya in order to offer convenience through innovative mobile banking solutions to its customers through its Airtel money m-commerce solution. In the partnership, customers on Airtel money are able to transfer money from their bank accounts to their phones and use it for payments to other individuals, purchases and bill payments. They are also able to deposit and send cash from the Airtel money agents available throughout the country.

Success of Xpress
Last year, Airtel Kenya rolled out new state of the art Airtel Xpress shops. The shops offer a wide range of convenient walk in face-to-face customer service including Airtel data settings, Airtel Money, postpaid and prepaid activations, bill payments, selling of airtime, modems and handset sales. "It is all part of our customer excellence journey that has been well received by our customers; we want to make sure our customers are able to access our personalized service and care in order to find solutions to any issues they may face in their experience with our products and services." remarked Bhargava on the success of the Airtel Xpress shops.

The Rise of P2P and the Fall of SMS
With every rising trend, another one becomes less popular. This has been the case with SMS in Kenya. Airtel Kenya have seen a huge rise in the number of people now conversing by way of Peer to Peer (P2P) sites and programs such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter. Mr. Bhargava thinks this is down to the instant messaging services provided by the sites "With the rise in data traffic we have seen and the fall in SMS traffic, driving us to tailor our services to meet the needs of the new instant messaging era"

Accessing the internet has become universal and essential for all people and Airtel Kenya have embraced this by offering affordable and quality internet access. Data tariffs offered by the company include unlimited daily, weekly and monthly data bundles, which enable its customers utilise smart phone features and high speed access to email and internet sites such as education materials, social media or entertainment sites including music and movie downloads.

"Customer experience is at the heart of what we do"
Airtel Kenya have seen its customer base grow to just under 5.8 million users throughout Kenya and expects that figure to rise further in the next 12 months. Mr. Bhargava is keen to point out that customer satisfaction is the company's number one priority "we are always looking for new and exciting ways to expand on our customer base. Whether this is by offering a new and innovative service or by listening to customer feedback and implementing new strategies to ensure our customers are always satisfied with our service. In short, customer experience is always at the heart of what we do." with the customer's best interest always at the fore front of Airtel Kenya's plans, consumers can look forward to products and services that will benefit their lives and change the way business and personal communication is conducted.