Safaricom has taken another swing at rival, Airtel. In June 2015, Safaricom revealed that it felt resentment towards Airtel’s move to display the M-Pesa logo on its advertorial to market the Airtel Money Service. In July 2015, it looks as though both companies are now facing off once again.
Safaricom has taken a swing at Airtel for allegedly courting politicians to back proposed rules seeking to have the former declared a dominant player in the market. The mobile operator has also alleged a ploy to remove provisions allowing telco regulator – Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) – to test levels of dominance in a telco player. This is according to a report by mediamaxnetwork.co.ke.
The report reveals that Safaricom said a review of the Anti-competitive Behaviour Rules could do away with retail price controls and bar it from revising charges on data, mobile money and call rates downwards.
According to a report by Telecompaper, interfering with the provisions in Articles 23 and 24 of the Competition Act could expose its pricing mechanisms to rival Airtel and Orange Kenya, Safaricom said.
Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, said in the report that: “Airtel has always wanted the regulator to ensure its retail prices are kept up to enable it to gain more business.”
Collymore added that: “The new regulations will criminalise Safaricom if the dominance abuse test is removed, adding that it will be against internationally accepted best practices.”
The report by Telecompaper states that if the new set of rules are revised and passed by parliament, Safaricom will automatically be declared as a dominant player. This will cause the telco to attract penalties for apparent abuse of dominance.
Dominant players are required to undergo a 45-day tariff change approval by the regulator while other operators are allowed to effect the changes immediately. This would essentially force Safaricom to operate in a restricted business environment.
Safaricom said, in the report, the fact that Airtel has CA, Ministry of ICT and Senate backing on the debate, amounts to unfair play in the market. The mobile service provider said it has written to the CA, expressing displeasure at the way the matter is being handled. On 10 July, Airtel invited the Senate Committee on ICT to listen to its side of the story. Chairman Mutahi Kagwe said the committee would meet Safaricom and Orange Kenya before declaring its stance on the matter.