Airtel launches ‘Tubonge’ to counter confusing Flex Bundles from Safaricom

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Airtel has launched ‘Tubonge’, a daily, weekly and monthly subscription offer for its prepay voice customers days after competitor Safaricom launched a complicated bundle offer dubbed Flex which simply requires subscribers to spend more cash on data, SMS and voice for a negligible reward.

The daily Tubonge offer goes for Kshs.10, the weekly offer for Kshs.50 and a monthly offer that goes for Kshs. 150. All Tubonge offers come with 100mins for Airtel to Airtel calls per day and a 2 shillings calling rate to any other network beating Orange/Telkom Kenya’s Ksh 3 per minute to other networks and Safaricom’s Ksh 4.

Tubonge, which is available at *544# from an Airtel line, and can be used with other offers like UnlimiNet and Tosha. Tubonge minutes are valid for local use only and Airtel expects to see a growth in their subscriber base as well an increase in revenues from voice calls which account to around 70 percent of all telco revenues in the country.

Unlike Flex which is targeted at middle income earners and SME owners“Tubonge”, targets Kenyans from all walks of life that rely on making calls as their preferred mode of communication.

Airtel Kenya CEO, Prasanta Das Sarma said, “Our customers remain at the core of our business and as such we are delighted to be launching a product that will in essence make their lives simple by giving them value for money while meeting all their communication needs. We endeavor to keep giving our customers the very best products and services that will positively impact their lives. ”

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Tubonge is aimed at making Airtel the number one choice for the local Mwananchi, something Safaricom rode on for long to its mammoth success earning it over 26 million compared to Airtel’s some 7m (stats (PDF)

By launching Tubonge, Airtel is making itself appear as a committed friend towards the struggling middle class and BoP who make around 80 percent of the population. By the end of the quarter or year, this move is expected to give Airtel over 2m new subscribers as it pitches itself as a telco that cares.

Safaricom is set to launch another Flex-like product targeting Wananchi, this will be a good fight for the two to have and hopefully the Flex Bundles committee will do their homework and launch something refreshing like someone did with M-Pesa kadogo and Bamba 5/10 airtime.

Flex exorbitantly charges for Ksh 99 for daily, Ksh 599 for weekly and Ksh 2499 for monthly bundles. Compared to Tubonge, Flex is a massive con which might portray Safaricom as a corporate bully indifferent of its customers at the expense of profit maximazation. However, as an opt in service no one has to complain but instead pick which product makes him or her feel nice or which one helps them to save money and build their Kenyan dreams of home ownership, paying school fees for kids and being financially sound.