The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has confirmed that mobile number portability (MNP) was successfully implemented in the country on 1 April 2011, making Kenya the 63rd nation to allow mobile phone users to retain their existing phone numbers when changing service providers. The long-awaited introduction of MNP follows a series of extensive public consultations that took place between 2004 and 2008. In March 2010 Netherlands-based Porting Access was awarded a contract to supply, install, commission and manage the country’s MNP services; those wishing to switch operators while retaining their numbers will pay a one-off fee of KES199.80 (USD2.36). However, Airtel Kenya, the country’s second largest cellco by subscribers, has declared its intention to waive the MNP fee for anyone porting their number to its network. Rene Meza, managing director of Airtel Kenya, commented: ‘The successful rollout of MNP is a great boost for Kenya’s image in the global arena as it confirms the country’s status as a technologically savvy nation, especially in the developing world’. Bob Collymore, CEO of market leader Safaricom, commented: ‘We are not afraid to lose customers. Other networks have always been after Safaricom subscribers anyway. It is good that consumers now have a choice, I think each network should be left to deal with MNP in its own way’.
CCK director general Charles Njoroge commented: ‘The implementation of number portability is expected to deepen the level of competition in the mobile telecommunications market and enhance consumer choice. In the new dispensation, service providers who do not pay attention to quality and good customer service may find it hard to survive. The operators have carried out the necessary tests and we expect the services to kick off without major hitches. There might be a few teething problems at the beginning, but this should be sorted out within the shortest time possible’.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in November 2004 the CCK announced that MNP would be introduced on 1 July 2005. The deadline was later pushed back, and in 2007 MNP was postponed indefinitely after the operators complained about the high costs involved in setting up the system. In April 2010 the CCK announced that the country’s four cellcos – Safaricom, Airtel (then Zain), Orange and Essar – would be required to start offering MNP from July that year, a date which was subsequently put back a further six months, to 31 December. In December MNP was delayed once again, until 1 April 2011.