Kenyas largest mobile phone operator, Safaricom, will not reduce its call rates after rival Airtel slashed its cross-network call charges by 50 per cent.

CEO Bob Collymore said such a move could trigger a price war in the telecommunications industry adding that the firm has to maintain a sustainable business.

“We are not going to move our prices. If we lose market share as a result of that then that is fine. We have to maintain a sustainable business," Collymore told reporters on Friday.

Airtel slashed the cost of making a call to Sh2 per minute across all networks in a bid to shore up its subscriber numbers in a market currently controlled by Safaricom.

Prasanta Das Sarma, the chief executive of Airtel Kenya, said the new tariff “gives double the value to the customers as now they can talk twice as much."

30 million subscribers

Safaricom customers call at Sh4 per minute both on-net and off-net.

The telco controls about 67 per cent of Kenya’s mobile market, with close to 30 million subscribers.

A recent report by the Communications Authority of Kenya revealed that Airtel Kenya’s market share by mobile voice traffic grew by 6.7 per cent to 28.7 per cent between January and March 2018, the highest growth in the industry.

The price cut comes on the backdrop of a recent study commissioned by the CA recommending that Safaricom should offer rivals access to its transmission sites and its network of mobile money outlets to increase competition.