NAIROBI, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Telkom Kenya is in talks with two unnamed parties over partnerships to allow it to sell high speed internet capacity from two undersea data cables that are about to land in the East African nation, its CEO said on Tuesday.
The operator, which is the smallest in Kenya behind Safaricom and Bharti Airtel’s Kenyan unit, has been focusing on data to gain market share. It already distributes capacity from three other undersea cables, using its extensive fibre network in the country.
“The combination of affordable data options, strong network coverage across the country... catering to a data hungry market, has enabled us to become the preferred data network,” Aldo Mareuse, the CEO of Telkom, told a news conference.
It says it has the cheapest data plan in the market, offering 2 gigabyte (GB) for 99 shillings ($0.9826).
Safaricom, the dominant operator with nearly 70 percent of the market, cut its internet connection prices last month in response to Telkom’s aggressive positioning.
Telkom, 60 percent owned by London-based Helios Investment with the rest held by the government, had 4.1 million users, about 9 percent of the market, as of July this year.
“We are now putting in place an aggressive market engagement campaign, to strengthen our push towards 5 million customers and beyond,” Mareuse said.
He called on the regulator to ensure agents of Telkom’s mobile money service T-Kash could work with those of Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform on cash transfers and other transactions, to boost competition in the sector.
The two mobile money wallets were interlinked last week, allowing customers of either service to send money to each other seamlessly, but Mareuse said the agent and merchant integration networks were critical.
The integration of the two agent networks, together with those of Airtel’s financial service, is one of the recommendations contained in a draft study on competition, which Safaricom has objected to. ($1 = 100.7500 Kenyan shillings) (Reporting by Duncan Miriri)