Kenya's telecoms regulator has announced that the country's four mobile networks will be required to start supporting Mobile Number Portability from this July. The regulator has been planning to offer MNP in the country for several years, but kept deferring the plans.
The plans, originally announced in 2004 were put on hold in 2007 after the regulator cited the high costs of implementing the system. They were then resurrected in late 2008 for launch between March and September 2009. It now seems likely that the launch will finally occur in the middle of this year.
Subscribers will be charged an administrative fee for each time they port their number to a new operator, although the fee is still to be worked out with the operators.
Typically in most countries where MNP has been introduced, the smaller players tend to see a short-term jump in subscriber numbers at the expense of a dominant player - in this case, Safaricom.
The Mobile World subscriber database reports that Safaricom is the market leader with a market share of 82% with Zain coming in at 11.3%. Newer entrants, Econet had 2.3% of the market while Orange (Telecom Kenya) had 4.1% of the market.
The regulator has also commissioned Analysys Mason to conduct a study into the market for wholesale and retail termination rates. The operators have until 7th May to respond to the survey.