Category Archives: Telkom Kenya

Rediscovering Telkom Kenya

Monday’s nationwide outage of telephone, internet data, and mobile money services showed the practical need for people and companies to have viable alternatives for their daily connectivity. One of the oldest companies in this space is Telkom Kenya.

While it has been in the news more for its foray into mobile phone business under the Orange brand, other parts of the company have continued to chug along providing affordable and reliable services to customers, governments, and institutions  all across the country

Telkom Enterprise has three key connectivity products:  JamboNet for large businesses, E@synet Broadband for SME’s, and Flybox for homes and small businesses. Telkom has continued to invest and grow its infrastructure as well as through partnerships in submarine cables to extend broadband connectivity. The Telkom Kenya Entreprise division is now led Kris Senanu, long-associated  with Access Kenya and the history of internet service businesses in Kenya. Telkom manages the National Optic Fibre Backbone (NOFBI) for the Kenya Government and was recently contracted to roll out free Wi-Fi to over one thousand,  government-funded, incubation hubs in 290 constituencies around the country.

Telkom is 60% owned by Helios, an Africa-focused investment firm, and the Kenya government owns the other 40%. Other investments by Helios in Kenya include Africa Oil, Vivo Energy, and the Wananchi Group. It is also invested in Interswitch which supports financial connectivity services at a dozen Kenya banks and 1,000 ATM’s.

Kenya’s Money in the Past: Digital Kenya

Digital Kenya, by Bitange Ndemo and Tim Weiss, charts the rapid emergence of Kenya in the world of technology. Through stories and interviews with people in the sector, you learn about risk-taking and making policy from humble beginnings back in the mid-1990’s when the whole country shared 32 kbps, and the then telecom Kenya Posts & Telecommunications (KPTC) monopoly declared internet services as being illegal. At the time, KPTC was connecting about 10,000 users to the phone network, and with 77,000 potential customers waiting, they envisioned a 5% tele-density in Kenya by the year 2015. The tele-density in 2015 turned out to be 88% thanks to rapid changes that came after fibre cables and the cheaper mobile phones emerged.

One story is a narration of how, as a peace agreement was being signed in February 2008 to end the post-election violence in Kenya, the ICT Ministry managed to secure a guarantee to enable the laying of the TEAMS fibre cable that ultimately changed the face of ICT in Kenya. This came after the ministry had stepped back from another long-discussed bureaucratic cable project – one called EASSY. This was one of the examples of government officials circumventing red tape for a good outcome. Another was the roll-out of M-Pesa which is also cited here, ahead of regulations and thanks to some individuals in government giving it their cautious blessing. Not all of them turned out well, and one case cited is of officials at the Postal Corporation sabotaging a land deal that would have led to the establishment in Nairobi of the headquarters of a multinational telecommunications organization.

There are many other stories that show issues of privatization, race, the lack of vision & finance, tech startups, the need for skills to scale, and the disconnect between local capital & the tech sector. It also shows the disconnect of ICT with both formal banking and also with the agricultural sector, two crucial links yet to be adequately bridged in Kenya.

Thanks to the Ford Foundation, the Digital Kenya book is available free of charge and a book download can be obtained from a dedicated site.

M&A Moment: June 2016

Various deals in the last few weeks and months in East Africa

Banking:

  • Barclays sold 12% of Barclays Africa for $873 million, reducing its’ stake to 50.1%. In Kenya, the Central bank said their feel like `flower girls’ in the Barclays exit for which Barclays says it has attracted ‘over 100’ offers.
  • At Chase Bank suitors are lining up to buy the bank that’s now out of receivership. KCB and QNB of Qatar are tipped as leaders, but there are as are a few other mid-size banks said to be interested.
  • Cooperative Bank plans to do a joint ventures to expand into Ethiopia and Rwanda following in the model that was succesful in South Sudan. This will be in partnerships with co-operative societies in those countries.
  • Credit Bank is seeking an additional Kshs 5.4 billion from an investment group. The bank is wooing Fountain Enterprises Programme (FEP) to buy to 70% of the bank via a private offer priced at Kshs 180 apiece and limited to members of the chama (investment club) which has a large following in the UK and US. (via Biz Daily)
  • CBK has rejects takeover bids by 7 suitors of collapsed Dubai Bank, as the proposed investors have not provided bona fides.
  • Equity Bank is completing the acquisition of 79% of Congo (DRC), the 7th largest bank – ProCredit Bank for w Africa. It has 170,000 customers and only about 4% of their 85 million citizens  have bank accounts.
  • The Mwalimu SACCO/Equatorial Commercial Bank combination is going to be called Spire Bank (via Mwirigi)
  • Fidelity Bank is set to receive an investment from Duet Private Equity who will pay Kshs 1.9 billion to buy into the bank (no shareholders are exiting).
  • I&M is set to acquire 100% of Giro bank in a deal in which the owners of Giro will get 5% of I&M. Also CDC is set to become the fourth largest owner of I&M after it agreed to fully buy out DEG and Proparco, who hold an 11%  stake. The Competition Authority of Kenya has authorized the acquisition  65% of Burbidge Capital by I&M.
  • Jamii Bora is looking to raise an additional Kshs 3.8 billion, comprising 800 million of debt and Kshs 3 billion from a strategic partner/investor.
  • Kenya Government: The National Bank of Kenya (NBK), Consolidated Bank and the Development Bank of Kenya will be consolidated into one or two institutions to make them stronger in coming months,  to make them stronger, Treasury secretary Henry Rotich has said.
  • The Kenya government also plans to create Biashara Bank form merging the Youth, Women’s & Uwezo enterprise funds) to cater for start-ups
  • Tanzania’s Bank M is set to acquire Kenya’s Oriental Commercial Bank, and be listed at the NSE. Bank M, a recent winner of best corporate bank in Tanzania has set up a holding company in Kenya (via Kenyanwalstreet)

Beauty & Pharma

  • The Competition Authority authorized the acquisition of 100% of Canon Chemicals by Godrej East Africa Holdings
  • Earlier the Competition Authority cleared the acquisition of the brands of Sigoria t/a Beuty Plus East Africa by Flame Tree Africa – this was part of the acquisition of the ‘Suzie Beauty’ brand and inventories for Kshs  45 million.

Food & Beverage

  • Centum made an offer to buy shares from some minority Almasi bottling shareholders.
  • The Competition Authority authorized the acquisition of Sab Miller by Anheuser-Busch Inbev.
  • Naked Pizza Kenya has been bought out by Pizza Hut (more here)
  • Coca-Cola Company  announced a new streamlined international structure. The company will form a Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Group, consisting of the business units that currently make up the Europe and the Eurasia and Africa Groups. And, in Africa, two business units will be reconfigured to more closely align operations with bottling operations on the continent, with the formation of a new South and East Africa business unit and a West Africa business unit. (Edit)

Finance, Law, & Insurance

  • Helios did a deal for Crown Agents key units marking the first time an African-managed fund acquired a UK financial institution.
  • Ringier Africa Deals group (ex-Rupu) acquired Nigerian online shopping platform DealDey
  • The Competition Authority authorized the acquisition of an additional 16% of AON Kenya Insurance Brokers Limited by AON UK Holdings  giving it a controlling interest of 56%.
  • The Competition Authority authorized the acquisition of 63% of First Assurance Company by First Assurance Holdings  on condition that the merged entity shall retain all 120 employees of First Assurance Company
  • Resolution Insurance was set to raise Kshs 2.5 billion in a series of transactions that will see new investors join private equity firm Leapfrog Investments in the list of the company’s shareholders (via Biz. Daily)
  • Two of the oldest Kenyan law firms, Daly & Figgis (1899) and Inamdar & Inamdar (1926) will now practice as Daly & Inamdar.
  • Plum LLP plans to buy a 23% of insurer British-American Investments(Britam) that had been seized by the government of Mauritius from a disgraced businessman in 2015. (Edit)

Logistics, Engineering, & Agri-Biz

  • Google agreed to buy a 12.5% stake in Africa’s largest wind project, Kenya’s Lake Turkana, from Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems A/S. The 310-megawatt Lake Turkana wind park, controlled by Lake Turkana Wind Power, is set to produce about 15% of Kenya’s electricity needs (via Marketwatch)
  • The Competition Authority authorized the acquisition  of 100% of  Schreurs Naivasha by Kongoni River Farm.
  • The  Competition Authority authorized the acquisition of 49% of, and or 100% preference shares in, Seruji Limited by QG African Infrastructure 1L.P.
  • The Competition Authority  authorized the acquisition of assets of Lima by Panafrican Equipment – (Biwott)
  • The Competition Authority authorized the acquisition of 51% Transmara Sugar by Sucriere Des Mascareignes
  • The Competition Authority  authorized the acquisition of the assets of Afro Plastics Kenya  by Ashut Engineers.
  • Finlays Horticulture Kenya  was granted approval by the Competition Authority to buy Skytrain Limited, which provides the essential service to cargo airlines at JKIA (via Biz. Daily)
  • Swiss logistics giant Panalpina completed the buyout of a majority stake in Nairobi-based air freight forwarder Airflo for an undisclosed amount. (via Biz. Daily)
  • Craft Silicon will launch the Little Drivers service starting with 2,000 drivers — formerly of Easy Taxi, which exited the Kenyan and African markets last month after a decision by one of its investors, American firm Goldman Sachs, to direct all its investments towards Uber. (via Biz. Daily)
  • A British engineering firm that designed the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai has acquired a Kenyan company, making Nairobi its African headquarters for property, energy and infrastructure deals. Atkins will build on the strong regional market presence of Howard Humphreys East Africa to grow its consultancy business lines including design, engineering and project management. (via Biz. Daily)
  • TransCentury Group reached a settlement with its majority convertible bondholders, reducing the debt from $80M to $40M as the company has secured an equity injection of $20M from Kuramo Capital, bringing the outstanding bond debt to USD 20M. (Edit)

Real Estate & Supermarkets 

  • The Competition Authority  authorized the acquisition of 100% of Vipingo Estate  by Centum Investments.
  • The Competition Authority  authorized the  acquisition of a further 40% of Two Rivers Lifestyle Centre  by OMP Africa Investment Company (Old Mutual.) Also at Two Rivers,  Carrefour has signed a 7-year lease that  guarantees some exclusivity.
  • The  Competition Authority authorized the acquisition of  Yako Supermarket by  Nakumatt Holdings, on condition that the merged entity shall retain all two hundred and eighty three (283) employees of Yako Supermarkets.
  • Suppliers adopted Uchumi’s revival plan that included convert half of the debt owed to them into equity but Uchumi’s largest shareholder,  Jamii Bora Bank, said they were duped in investing in the chain two years ago.
  • Botswana supermarket chain Choppies finally succeeded in its quest to enter Kenya’s retail space through the acquisition of Ukwala

Telecommunications, Media & Publishing

  • The Competition Authority authorized the acquisition of 70% of Telkom Kenya  by Jamhuri Holdings (Helios)
  • Times Media Group paid a lot for half of the Radio Africa Group, but it mostly went to settle their debt that was $11 million (via #JKL #thismanpike)
  • Centum increased its stake in Longhorn to 60% in a recent rights issue (it was 31% before).
  • Bamba TV and Standard Group signed a Kshs 300 million partnership that will see KTN acquire a 50%  stake in Lancia Digital Broadcasting, the trademark owner of Bamba TV. (via The Star) (Edit)
  • Trace TV acquires African VOD Service Buni.Tv which is one of the 3 largest VOD services in Africa alongside Iroko TV and Nasper’s Showmax (Edit)
  • Longhorn Publishers is set to acquire 74% Law Africa Publishing for an undisclosed price. (Edit)

Other

  • The Competition Authority authorized the acquisition of 30% of KEG Holdings by Africa Bovine.
  •  The Competition Authority  authorized the acquisition of 51% of Universal Corporation  by Strides Pharma (Cyprus)
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya authorized the acquisition of shares in Stellar Investment Holdings by Catalyst OCL Investment LLC , pursuant to the provisions of a convertible debt instrument.
  • Marriott International have rebranded Protea Hotels to capitalize on the travel aspirations of Africa’s growing middle class and the increased presence of international hotel brands in Africa. The brand is now officially Protea Hotels by Marriott (Edit)
  • GardaWorld acquires KK Security: The international protective service firm had added KK Security to its global hetwork which now includes 18 African countries, up from 11 before. (Edit)

Rumours

  • Tigo to buy out of Airtel Kenya?
  • Gossip blog Ghafla Kenya gets acquired by Ringier (via Techweez)

Industry Stuff

  • An investment banker’s worst nightmare .. buyers in $ billon deals didn’t use financial advisers 26% of the time.
  • African private-equity deals shrink to lowest level in three years as funds reach record closes?!
  • Africa private equity exits reach a nine-year high?!
  • UK business aviation feels that a Britain split from the European Union would be a very bad thing.
  • The African Development Bank is putting up a fund with $5 billion, specifically to incubate ideas from young Africans.

$1 = Kshs 100

Idea Exchange: AppStars, Crowdsourcing, Maker Faire, Manuscripts

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The winners of the 2012 Africa Awards will be announced in October 2012, in Accra, Ghana. 
Also read about the young winners of the Anzisha Prize for young African entrepreneurs between the ages of 16 to 22.
Crowdsourced Journalism Awards for Africa deadline has passed, but it will be interesting to see the outcome of the big picture journalism contest  that had a prize grant a 15,000 Euros to be shared by three winners. The project is backed by Internews Europe and funded by the International Press Institute and – ..the goal is to strengthen African journalists’ capacities through training in the use of crowdsourced journalism techniques which aim to leverage citizen participation and increase the representation of local voices and perspectives through both traditional and new media channels.
Forbes Africa Ad Awards deadline is 14 September.
 
Google  RISE (Roots in Science and Engineering) Awards are now open. They promote and support education initiatives in two key areas: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) and Computer Science (CS) and will award grants of $5,000 – $25,000 to organizations working with primary and secondary school students in these fields around the world.

Deadline is September 30.
#Kenya365 Instagram Project collects interesting photos on daily life in Kenya. Simply tag your instagram shots from Kenya with #kenya365 and it ends on August 31, 2013.

 The Kenya Film Festivalis a celebration of film in Kenya and the deadline for entries to the seventh edition of the festival is September 17.
 The Kwani? Manuscript Project is a literary prize for African writing and they are seeking unpublished fiction manuscripts from African writers across the continent and in the Diaspora. The top 3 manuscripts will be awarded cash prizes of Kshs 300,000 (~$3,500) for 1st place, and Kshs 150,000 and  Kshs 75,000 for 2nd and 3rd place. Kwani? will also publish the manuscripts and market the authors globally. Deadline is 17 September. 
Kwani? also has a Majuu offer to Kenya’s who live or have been in the diaspora (huko Majuu) and will pay people for photos, party flyers, job applications, tickets, recipes and other mementos of their time in the diaspora. Deadline is September 23
Make Faire Africa apply now to exhibit creative inventions, designs & fabrications at the 2012 edition in Lagos in November.
ONE The 2012 ONE Africa Award has a $100,000 prize that rewards innovation and initiatives in line with the millennium development goals. Deadline is September 23.

Orange African Social Venture is aimed at young entrepreneurs and start-ups across Africa that promote social development through ICT. Three winners will receive prizes of between 10,000 and 25,000 euros and the deadline for applications is September 30 
Safaricom, in conjunction with Vodafone, has the Safaricom Appstar challenge with a grand prize for Kenya of  Kshs 1,000,000 (~$11,800) , and a runner up prize of Kshs 500,000, and will also reward one winner from each of the six categories of games & entertainment, agriculture, health, education, utilities and financial inclusion with a Kshs 100,000 prize. The winner and runner up will also travel to South Africa to take part in the Vodafone round of the challenge, competing against winners from Tanzania, Qatar, Egypt, South Africa, and Lesotho.
The deadline is November 2, and during that time people will be able to build new apps whether in Java, Symbian, Blackberry, or Android, but apps that already appear in other stores are not eligible. Safaricom will also be launching an app store in Kenya next month in developers will own the intellectual property to their apps and there will be a revenue sharing model that favours the developers.

EDIT

Apply for the Amazon Web Services start up challenge in categories of big data & high performance computing, gaming, consumer, and business – with grand prizes of $50,000. Deadline is November 9. 

Green Card:  The US DV-2014 (diversity visa) Program runs from October 2, to November 3, 2012.
 

The 2013  Innovation Prize for Africa – has three prizes totaling $150,000 for African innovations in any of  these categories – Agriculture/agribusiness, 2 Environment/Energy/Water, Health/Wellbeing, ICT and Manufacturing/Service industries. The first prize is $100,000 and $25,000 for the second with an additional special prize for a social impact innovation of $25,000.  Entries close on 31 October 2012.

Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2013. Deadline is 31 October. 
SOMA Kenya Nominations are open for the Kenya Social Media Awards.    

TED Global 2013 is now accepting applications.

The Unreasonable Institute is now accepting applications for the year 2013 and they seeking world-changing entrepreneurs – for who they will help scale their impact through mentorship, funding, and networking opportunities.

Bharti Airtel in Kenya

Zain/Bharti shake market: On August 18, Zain Kenya announced new unprecedented low rates for voice calls and SMS in a new tariff war. The new rates for calls of Kshs 3/=(~$0.04) per minute and for SMS of Kshs 1/=(~$0.01), which apply across all networks and are available to all Zain customers, easily trumps their main competitor, and market leader, Safaricom whose rates hover around Kshs 8 for a phone call and Kshs 3.50 for an SMS (and 12/= and 5/= to other networks for the same).

True cheap rates: The new rates have been well received with very popular comments online and a rush by consumers to obtain Zain lines or re-activate old ones. CEO Rene Meza called this a new long dark journey to market dominance [i.e. from 10% now] and one they will tackle aggressively for the long term. But is it sustainable? The last time Zain engaged in a price war, they ended in a bloody loss, with Zain gaining customers but not market share and $90 million in the red.

Airtel Strategy : However Zain Kenya is no more. The push comes from new owners Bharti Airtel of India who completed their takeover of the Zain Africa Group last month and will rebrand the company (in Kenya) by October 2010. They have also set out to re-position the local telecommunications sector in tandem with Essar and France Telecom by lobbying the government for other changes to level the playing field in a market they believe is unfairly dominated by Safaricom and which denies Kenyans true freedom of choice.

At the official launch in July, Airtel executives the emphasized some of their strategies including:
– They are rural focused and will build a rural brand through farming related promotions and CSR activities
– Be a low cost operators; employ low skilled sales force
– Lobby for number portability
– Push for lower interconnection rates which will lead to affordable products
– Lobby for infrastructure sharing i.e. no need to have 5 cell phone towers in a small town (all incurring electricity, security, cement, other charges) town when 1 will do with all Telco’s sharing transmission and fibre
– Work with ecosystem partners, like HP and Eriksson, and have a BPO call centre

Will the government deliver on low connection fees, number portability and infrastructure sharing? At the launch Meza mentioned that the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) had lowered the interconnection tariff from about 4 to 2 shillings effective September 2010.

Short-term losses: Meza said they plan to grow revenue and subscribers, and margins and profits will come later from operating a lower cost structure. And in a back stab at the previous owners (and perhaps minority shareholders), he said for the first time in eight years they have shareholders with the right mind-set to allow them to take opportunities in the market, increase rural penetration and utilise the right technology – by investing Kshs 24 billion (~$296 million) in the next 18 months on rural cell phone sites, revamping their zap money transfer systems, increasing their outlets & distribution network, expanding their 2G network, and rolling out a 3G network by the end of the year (since the license fee was reduced this year, they will be able to cover more parts of Kenya than just Nairobi and Mombasa)

Improve on Marketing: Marketing has always been a weak point at Zain, who keep throwing out too many confusing promotions one after another after another. The Wednesday Nation had a full-page ad for the new Zain (3/= and 1/=) rates and on the adjacent page was a small story touting a tariff for Zain ‘Club 20’ subscribers who could now get free calls and unlimited SMS from 11pm to 6 a.m. within the Zain network only! And all this comes a month after they had launched anotherrevolutionarypromotion. Hopefully this will hopefully change with the recent marketing executive appointments and re-focused brand and strategy.

EDIT – Other Developments
– Zain accuses Safaricom of sabotaging its new price offer
– Safaricom reassures Zain over inter-connect capacity, and says their concerns are premature.
– CEO’s e-mail exchange between Rene Meza (Zain) and Michael Joseph (Safaricom)
– Safaricom launches Masaa tariff with prices of Kshs 2-4 for Safaricom calls and Kshs 3-5 to other networks.
– Orange (France Telecom/Telkom Kenya) make their low cost pitch with Kshs 2 and Kshs 4 for on and off net calls respectively, with free on net calls from 10 AM to 5 PM for Kshs 100 per month ($1.25)