UK-based telecoms firm Vodafone, with 40 per cent stake in Safaricom, is the top beneficiary of the huge windfall. The firm will pocket Sh15.5 billion up from the Sh10.2 billion received the previous year.
The National Treasury, with a 35 per cent stake, will earn about Sh13.6 billion up from the Sh8.9 billion received in 2016 – making the State’s investment in Safaricom one of the most successful in history.
Minority shareholders of the company will share Sh9.7 billion up from Sh6.4 billion last year.
During the period under review, mobile data revenue rose 38.5 per cent to Sh29.29 billion and M-Pesa revenue – the bread and butter of the telco – grew 32.7 per cent to Sh55.08 billion. Voice revenue grew 2.9 per cent to Sh93.46 billion while SMS income fell 3.7 per cent.
Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore said sustained investments in the network was yielding benefits that will help boost the company’s growth in the medium term.
“We are not worried about the fall [in SMS revenue]. We expected this to come. We can see it in other markets where SMS has gone into the negative,” he said.
Mr Collymore said the company was investing heavily in its data infrastructure and expanding its M-Pesa network to offset the weakening in the old-style sources of revenue.
Data services and mobile money are expected to drive Safaricom into its next phase of growth considering that a majority of Kenyans have now acquired smartphones and are using them to access Internet.