Leading Kenyan mobile phone operator Safaricom plans to move to an Internet protocol (IP) network in the next two years to help lower costs and reduce outages, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

An Internet protocol network allows data to be transmitted continuously, while packet stream technology involves transmitting data after it has been broken into chunks.

We want all our network to be IP-based ... Safaricom in particular now is very much on a two-year path to make all our systems completely IP, which means both our fixed and our mobile system, Michael Joseph told a regional telecoms conference.

It's much simpler, it's much cheaper ... you can have your links automatically move from one switch to another if there's a breakdown, Joseph told Reuters after his presentation.

The company, which is 40 percent owned by Britain's Vodafone, says it has over 15 million active SIM subscribers, giving it roughly 80 percent of the mobile telecoms market in east Africa's biggest economy.

Joseph said in March it was Safaricom's aim to have 25 percent of revenue coming from data services within two years as the number of mobile Internet users and subscribers to its money transfer service, M-Pesa, continued to rise.

He said the drive toward an IP network was happening in the background and was not part of the company's push toward getting more revenues from data.

Joseph did not say how much the move would cost, but said Safaricom's capital budget for this year was 23 billion shillings ($297 million).

Safaricom is the only operator in Kenya with a 3G license. It typically accounts for more than half the shares traded each day on the Nairobi Stock Exchange.

(Editing by David Clarke and Elaine Hardcastle)