Safaricom to Increase Capital Spending as It Rolls Out Cable

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Safaricom Ltd., Kenya’s biggest company by market value, plans to increase capital expenditure by 8 percent for the fiscal year through March as it extends cable to meet demand for Internet access.

“We have to continue investing in infrastructure,” Bob Collymore, chief executive officer of the mobile-phone company, said today in an interview on the sidelines of an International Monetary Fund conference in the capital, Nairobi.

Capital spending in the year will rise to 27 billion shillings ($309 million) from 25 billion shillings, Collymore said. Kenya’s data usage and penetration is expected to overtake that of Egypt in five years, mostly driven by investment in fiber-optic networks and lower pricing per data unit, he said.

Safaricom, 40 percent owned by Vodafone Group Plc. (VOD), said last month it had begun laying 6,000 kilometers of fiber-optic cable to connect more people to the Internet and fixed phone services. Kenyan Internet users increased 11.6 percent to 16.2 million in the fourth quarter through December from the previous three months.

Safaricom rose 0.6 percent to 8.15 shillings by the close of trading in Nairobi. The shares have gained 61 percent this year, beating the 26 percent rise of the FTSE NSE Kenya 25 Index.