A few years ago, we had no option but persevere long queues to use a call box in order to pass a message. Then mobile communication was a mirage to the common Mwananchi. This was a thing for the government big fishes and prominent kids in town; you had to part with huge amounts of money to get a sim card and the handset. As if this wasn’t enough one had to apply for connectivity, and it was beyond doubt that calls had to be monitored.
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I am driving at a revolution that has transpired after a lot of years in the telecommunication industry, giving a chance to those living even in the remotest parts of the country to own a mobile phone.
The issue of about 20 million people, who at some point couldn’t afford a mobile phone because of cost, is history. We have risen to a level in the telecommunication space where there exists a mobile war, and the cute thing about this: nobody gets hurt, but the consumers benefit a lot with the reduction of call costs. For a long time, unscrupulous telecommunication companies, especially the mobile operators who were mainly driven by a penchant for abnormal profits, charged exorbitant tariffs, locking out the low-end segment of the population. It does not help matters that before the market was fully liberalized, these operators took advantage of the monopolistic environment to exploit gullible consumers.
But thanks to the liberalization of the ICT sector that has opened the market for fair competition, and the intervention of the hawk-eyed regulator, the Communications Commission of Kenya, consumers are finally having the last laugh. May the price wars continue!
Whoever survives this war is one who wins the hearts of the mass market. The selfish approach of wanting to break even at high grounds is long gone. Greedy operators now need to realize that telecommunication as an industry is a long-term business and patience as a virtue needs to be cultivated by the players.
As an ultimate beneficiary, the consumer doesn’t care, so long as access to information and the low cost spent to communicate is what really matters. At the information point of view, it means that dissemination of important information, for instance health matters to enlighten a mother deep in the Rift Valley about the latest anti-malaria drugs on a mobile-based application platform, is what the world wants. Things have changed to a point where the top telecommunication industry decision makers are forced to think about the consumer benefits and affordability of a service before they close business for the day. Excluding the minor and taking a step in the masses at some point makes sense because at the end of the day the more subscribers the merrier, everybody goes home happy.
This is not only consumer based but also with the different strategies, especially with the ongoing price wars, the economy in one way or another records a percentage in GDP growth. This is attributed to the huge client base, which apart from the connectivity cost they incur, other industries in the market with complementary goods in the telecommunication industry make their cents and contribute to the economy. I can say this is a healthy fight to the masses.