Following years of delay, Kenyan mobile phone users will be able to switch networks without changing their numbers by the end of the year, following the award of a licence to manage the service. Mobile number portability (MNP) has long been a contentious issue in Kenya, and it was not until March 2010 that Porting Access of the Netherlands was awarded a contract to supply, install, commission, and manage MNP services. At the licence handing over ceremony this week, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) director-general Charles Njoroge commented: ‘This award is expected to bolster the level of competition in the mobile telecommunications market to the benefit of consumers’.
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 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, Zain, Orange and Essar - would be required to start offering MNP from July this year, a date which has since been put back a further six months. Those wishing to switch operators while retaining their numbers will pay a one-off fee of KES199.80.