Safaricom Acquires Majority Stake in One Communication

Kenya mobile phone provider Safaricom has acquired a 51 percent stake in One Communication, a data services provider.

The acquisition will compliment the company's current broadband services, especially for corporate customers, said Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph.

Safaricom paid 180 million Kenyan shillings (US$2.7 million) for the acquisition a week after France Telecom rebranded its subsidiary, Telkom Kenya, and unveiled products. France Telecom, with a 51 percent stake in Telkom Kenya, has declared its intention to be the leading provider of bundled services in Kenya.

The move is strategic for Safaricom, given that the Communications Commission of Kenya has initiated unified licensing, which allows companies to offer an array of services without extra licenses.

"The move to acquire One Communication has been facilitated by positive changes to the regulatory environment," Joseph said.

One Communication will be offering WiMax services with video, voice and data over Internet Protocol. The company will also handle data security, disaster recovery and business continuity, services that are not yet well developed in Kenya.

One Communication has set up five WiMax base stations but will expand throughout the country, said CEO Geoffrey Shimanyula. The initial roll out will focus on rural towns, not Nairobi, he said.

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