Embattled market leaders Kenol and Safaricom got some reprieves last week.
In the case of Safaricom, it was signaled in the form of a public complaint from rival Zain Kenya CEO (and which he followed up in a letter to the President) alleging that the communications industry regulator altered its new rules to shield Safaricom.
At Kenol, the Permanent Secretary for Energy announced a settlement of the dispute between Kenol and the Ministry (Kenya Pipeline Company, Kenya Pipeline Refineries), which Kenol echoed that with a cautious statement.
Kenol, Safaricom, and probably Kenya Airways and Equity Bank (with 5 million bank account holders) have reached a status of being too big to fail. They are huge tax-payers (Safaricom, Kenol), models of privatization (Kenya Airways), critical to the country and region (Uganda was affected by the Kenol shutoff) or source of international pride (Safaricom’s M-pesa)
The government goes out of its way to listen to these companies and protectthem and make rules that will assist them in their growth. In the case of Safaricom, cracking down on them does not guarantee that Zain or Orange will fill the gap in the near term. The price war started by Zain has been called unsustainable by the Safaricom CEO and that language is also creeping into government circles