Zain Kenya has today announced a  reduction in its off-peak calling rates. Following the move, Zain has slashed calls to other networks by upto 50%. Customers will now pay only Ksh. 3 for Zain to Zain calls and Kshs 6 to call any other network during certain periods of time, everyday of the week.

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The new rates will apply for calls made between 6pm and 6am every day of the week. The new rates, which do not require any subscription and are not subject to any terms and conditions, will apply automatically for all customers on pre paid and post paid tariff plans.

Speaking during the launch, Managing Director Rene Meza said the new rates will make telecommunication services more affordable to all Kenyans. “This is the best value for money available in the market today. Our very competitive rates coupled with the widest network coverage and superior network quality will make mobile customers in Kenya enjoy the best services with Zain. We have strategically decided to go for the mass market aggressively to fulfill their social communication needs with the timings and not only focus on the high value customers, where we have done very well. However, our valued corporate clients will also benefit from the out of office reduction in rates as well,” said Mr. Meza.

He attributed the ability to reduce the rates to optimization of Zain’s cost structure, which has made the mobile operator a more cost effective organization. “This has been achieved through outsourcing of non-core services, organizational restructuring and leveraging on the Group’s economies of scale,” he said.

Zain Kenya’s foray into the mass market segment is largely informed by the need to take advantage of its vast network coverage, which currently touches around 90% of the Kenyan population.  Mr. Meza said that under the new approach, Zain will differentiate itself by offering a much needed quality service, supported by industry best customer care support.

Mr. Meza said low cross-network charges will help stimulate communication amongst people on different networks. “High cross network rates limits a customer’s freedom of choice. Going by the emerging trends in the industry, consumers will identify with a particular service provider based on clarity of the service provided and customer care support” he said.

He disclosed that Zain Kenya would soon start testing an aggressive roll out of the 3G network countrywide: “Our data business has grown by over 35% year on year at the end of the first quarter of 2010. This is going to be the driver for growth going forward.”

The move to slash calling rates is expected to trigger another customer acquisition spree for Zain Kenya, the second largest mobile service provider.

Despite mobile phone services penetration growing significantly over the last two years, the service is not readily available to all Kenyans. The penetration is largely driven by dual-simming, meaning that large parts of the population still don’t have access to the mobile telephony service. Mobile penetration in Kenya currently stands at 45% yet only 30% of the population own sim cards.