Kenya has seen a dramatic election period that was characterized by bitter rigging accusations by the National Super Alliance to Jubilee, the ruling party. In the accusations, the country biggest telcom according to subscriber numbers was roped in with the opposition insisting that it aided the ruling party to rig elections.
Safaricom has since rubbished the accusations but it looks like the telcom company will be paying heavily for the part it allegedly played in the outcome of the general elections as Nasa, which has since metamorphosed to the National Resistance Movement (NRM) has called on all its supported to boycott Safaricoms products.
The boycott has since officially started and the NRM leader Raila Odinga is expected to change his allegiance to Airtel today at 4.00pm.No sooner had people started changing to other networks than the company started feeling the effects. According to the chairlady of the Safaricom Dealers Association Ms. Esther Muchemi, about1 million people are going to lose their jobs if the situation persists. She has called for sobrierity among the politicians.
“We appeal to all Kenyans to resist such calls to kill our economy. Boycotting Safaricom means no communication networks and those who will lose jobs are our brothers and sisters with families to feed and children to educate,” she said.
Kenyans were swift to react with mixed feelings after the announcement at the meeting where Eunice was flanked by other members of the association. Here are some of the reactions.
“Safaricom Dealers Association” safaricom has just been a ‘government parastatal’ – majority of its employees are just the Uthamaki— Reinhard Otieno (@rjakom) November 6, 2017
Safaricom dealers association have been enjoying abnormal profits for them to sponsor Jubilee now they shld face their consequences #Resist
French telco Orange Group has launched its new banking offer in mainland France. This 100% mobile-based offer dubbed Orange Bank will offer free real-time balances, mobile payment and a virtual adviser that is available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
The telco says the Orange Bank is 100% mobile and all operations and interactions between the customer and the bank can be carried out using a mobile phone.
Customers of Orange Bank can pay either with their bank card or their mobile (2); Send money by SMS (3); Temporarily deactivate their card, and reactivate it again if the card is retrieved (4); Check their bank balance in real time (5); And, by interacting with the virtual advisor, get answers to requests 24/.
For customers who prefer some form of human contact, Orange Bank also relies on the strength of Orange France’s network of stores with its 890 specially trained employees in 140 authorized stores in France.
Even if the virtual advisor is able to answer a large majority of questions, customers can also contact one of the advisors of Orange Bank’s customer relations centers.
From the outset, Orange Bank offers all the attributes of a traditional bank: a current account, a bank card, an authorized overdraft, a free complementary insurance package, a savings account remunerated at 1% interest.
Anyone can open an Orange Bank account, regardless of revenues, and customers will benefit from a completely free service for the vast majority of daily banking services.
The launch of the Orange Bank offering illustrates Orange’s ambition to diversify its services, particularly in mobile financial services. The Group also has recognized expertise in financial services with Orange Money (34 million customers in the Africa and Middle East region) and Orange Cash (500,000 users in France). This expertise was reinforced by the acquisition of a majority stake in Groupama Banque in 2016, which became Orange Bank in 2017.
The Group’s objective is to reach 400 million euros in revenues in 2018 in the mobile financial services sector, across all of its markets. Orange Bank’s ambition is to reach more than 2 million customers in France within 10 years.
According to Stéphane Richard, the Chairman and CEO of Orange: “With Orange Bank, this is an important new chapter in our history: Orange is now also a bank. A 100% mobile-based bank that is dedicated to providing an incomparable user experience. A bank that combines the best innovations available on the market today into a single offer.”
The Group is yet to announce when the platform will be launched into its other markets like Africa and Middle East.
Orange has officially launched its brand in Sierra Leone after completing the acquisition of Airtel Sierra Leone in July 2016 with plans to modernize and expand its coverage and quality of its network, and voice and data services.
With seven million people, Sierra Leone is a significant growth market for Orange and the firm says has invested $33 million since its acquisition.
The majority of investments have already been realised with 30 new radio sites on air and over half of the entire mobile network upgraded.
According to Sekou Drame, Chief Executive Officer, Orange Sierra Leone: “The launch of the Orange brand comes with a promise to meet the emerging needs of customers with innovative, affordable and relevant solutions that will empower consumers, giving them the freedom to do what they choose and provide them with the tools to meet life’s daily challenges.”
Orange is present in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where it has more than 127 million customers as of the end June 2017. With 5.2 billion euros in revenues in 2016 (12% of Orange’s total revenues), this region is a strategic priority for the Group.
Orange Money is currently available in 17 countries and has more than 34 million customers. The Group’s strategy in Africa and the Middle East is to position itself as a leader of the digital transformation and to bring its international expertise to support the development of new digital services.
Mobile money services continue to soar in popularity among Kenyans as evidenced by the latest numbers where Kenyans have made transactions worth Ksh 1.2 trillion in the fourth quarter of the 2016/2017 financial year.
Safaricom’s M-PESA led the pack with 22,624,298 subscriptions and Kshs. 904 million in total value of transactions. Equitel money took second position with 1,864,838 subscriptions and Ksh. 312 million in total value of transactions. Mobile Pay took the third position with Ksh. 1.5 million as value of transactions with just 87,786 subscriptions while Airtel Kenya took the fourth position with 1,530,645 subscriptions and Ksh. 1.2 million in total value for transactions. Although Mobikash boasts more subscriptions than Airtel, its total value of transactions was less than that of Airtel and stood at Ksh. 127,032,829. Orange Money was at sixth position with 194,445 subscriptions and Ksh. 85,270,000.
“The positive growth witnessed in the mobile money transfer service was largely driven by the widespread use of mobile money solutions and adoption of the service among traditionally underserved groups (rural populations), and increasingly broad range of mobile money services (including insurance and loan products) in Kenya,” reads part of the report.
Additionally, goods and services purchased over mobile platform amounted to 692.1 billion Kenya shillings which involved 316.5 million mobile commerce transactions. Person to person transfers were valued at 541.8 billion Kenya Shillings.
The director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko has directed that six Safaricom officers and Jubilee Party chief agent David Chirchir be investigated for allegedly playing a role in the flawed general election held on August 8 2017.
Tobiko wants the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Ndegwa Muhoro to probe Anthony Gachanja, Robert Mutai, Thibaud Rerolle, Shaka Kwach, Farouk Gaffour and Andrew Masila who the National Super Alliance (NASA) believe colluded with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and French IT firm OT Morpho to hand victory over to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Earlier, Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga sensationally claimed that Safaricom had routed results from the polling stations to a server in France but did not transmit them back to the IEBC servers at the Bomas of Kenya. According to Odinga, the six knew about the manipulation of the results but never blew the whistle.
Odinga gave Tobiko 72 hours to prosecute the six officers but after the lapse of the given time he has opted to institute private investigations against the six.
In defense of his team, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bob Collymore said, ‘results from KIEMs kits from Safaricom zones, were transmitted and are on the IEBC web portal.’
Collymore also asked politicians to leave his staff out of their political stalemate.
‘Those who want to accuse must engage me because I am the leader of the team. Don’t accuse my innocent members of staff. I reiterate these comments are unfair and unjust…let them fight their political agenda instead of dragging us into their woes,’ said Collymore.
Bob insisted that Safaricom will still participate in the coming elections as the IEBC still needed them to transmit the results.
Bob Collymore also decried the fact that the ongoing political stalemate has made them lose billions of shillings every day.
Tobiko asked Muhoro to submit his findings within 21 days and was categorical that the DCI will conduct ‘thorough, comprehensive and expeditious’ investigations.
Angaza, a Pay-As-You-Go solar tech platform and clean energy products manufacturer targeting off-grid consumers, has closed a $10.5 million in Series B financing led by Emerson Elemental, and included investments from Rethink Impact, Salesforce Ventures, Social Capital, and the Stanford StartX Fund.
The firm says it will use the funds to grow its global team and continue to expand the suite of technology tools and support services they offer their manufacturing and distribution partners. In doing so, they will enable these partners to efficiently scale their services to the 1.2 billion off-grid consumers that still lack access to modern energy services.
“This funding milestone is a testament to the power of partnerships which can collectively deliver affordable, clean energy to millions,” said Lesley Marincola, Chief Executive Officer at Angaza. “Angaza is excited to leverage this financing to further enhance the technology that enables our manufacturing and distribution partners to quickly and confidently scale their Pay-As-You-Go operations.”
Launched in early 2016, the B2B firm provides Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) technology solutions to solar device manufacturers and distributors worldwide and has rapidly expanded to work with distributors in over 30 countries spanning Latin America, India, and Sub-Saharan Africa and to date allows over 2 million people to transition to clean energy sources in their homes and small businesses.
By allowing off-grid consumers in emerging markets to purchase clean energy devices in small, affordable micropayments over time, manufacturers utilize Angaza’s proprietary embedded software and hardware to add metering and monitoring capabilities to their solar devices; the devices then remotely activate and deactivate according to payment from the end-user.
Distributors leverage Angaza’s comprehensive software platform to seamlessly manage their PAYG operations at scale. The Angaza software suite consists of the Energy Hub cloud-based web portal and the Activator mobile application, which are designed to address the specific complexities of credit sales in rural emerging markets. Angaza allows its distribution partners to accept mobile money payments from end-users in addition to traditional cash transactions.
Angaza’s manufacturing partners produce PAYG products such as solar water pumps, smartphones, and clean cookstoves, making a broad range of life-changing products affordable to end-users worldwide for individuals, SMEs and corporate clients.
Privacy is an issue subscribers in Kenya hold closely to their hearts so it is no surprise that the country is buzzing with the news of Justice Isaac Lenaola’s letter to Safaricom, a telecommunication giant in Kenya. In the letter that was drafted by Lenaola’s lawyer Donald Kipkorir and addressed to Bob Collymore who is the CEO of the telco, the judge is seeking information regarding how a certain Derrick Malika obtained his call logs.
Derrick Malika is a director at Angaza Network and earlier this week he also had tongues wagging when he presented a seemingly damning petition at the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) seeking investigations against Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Supreme Court judge Isaac Lenaola over alleged gross misconduct.
In the petition, Ngumu attached alleged phone conversation records and meetings that took place before the ruling was made.
“In respect of his petition, Mr. Ngumu has attached 98 pages of our clients mobile phone call, text and WhatsApp logs. Our client’s number was issued by and is still under Safaricom,” read part of the letter with KTK Advocates letterhead and that was addressed to Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore.
According to Section 31 of the Kenya Information & Communications Act, and article 31 of the Constitution, the telecom is obligated to be a good custodian of the their clients’ call-logs, messages and contents.
Having these in mind, the main questions lingering in any person who has followed this saga since the filing of the petition by Mr. Ngumu is how he was able to obtain the messages and call –logs? Did Safaricom authorize him to get them or did they provide the information to the petitioner?
The license given to the company is very specific on the fact that it should provide secure communication and that they do not intercept messages or disclose any information pertaining to their consumers’ mobile numbers.
According to the petition, another Supreme Court judge Justice Philomena Mwilu is said to have held a conversation lasting about two hours with Amos Wako but she failed to disclose this to other judges.
Safaricom is yet to authenticate or reply to the letter.
On August 8th 2017, about 15.5 million Kenyans held their general elections where they were expected to elect Members of Country Assemblies (MCA), Members of Parliament, Senators, Women representatives, governors and the president. All went well but after counting and transmission of the results, an opposition aspirant Mr. Raila Odinga did not agree with the final tally and went to court. The petition at the Supreme Court was presented by lawyer James Orengo among others on behalf of Odinga on August 18 2017.The petition was against The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and Uhuru Kenyatta who was the second respondent.
The Supreme Court judge comprises of Chief Justice David Maraga and Justices Isaac Lenaola, Philomena Mwilu, Njoki Ndungu, Jackton Ojwang, Smokin Wanjala and Ibrahim Warsame. A week after the petition was presented the Supreme court nullified the presidential elections with four of them namely, Maraga, Wanjala,Lenaola, Ndungu, for the nullification while Ojwang and Ndungu dissented. According to Mr. Ngumu, Lenaola and Mwilu grossly misconducted themselves during the trial and he wanted action taken against them for these allegations
Fenix International, a venture-backed pay-to-own home solar system technology and and financial services firm has raised funds from MTN, the Swedish Embassy in Zambia and USAID to launch pay-to-own solar home systems in Zambia.
The funding together with MTN’s distribution networks will help the firm reach unbanked and off-grid customers then later connect them to smart phones, financial services among others.
According to Lyndsay Handler, CEO of Fenix International, “Over 90 per cent of rural Zambians lack access to electricity and have no options other than dangerous candles and kerosene lanterns to light their homes. This is the harsh reality of the situation which we are working to change. Our solar home systems not only provide light and energy, but our unique Fenix credit score makes upgrades and additional life-changing products accessible to committed customers as their needs and incomes grow. Ten years from now, we hope to eliminate the use of candles and be an important part of our customers’ lives across Zambia.”
Though the amount MTN is committing has not been made public but might be in millions of dollars if its distribution network is valued. The Swedish Embassy is committing nearly $3m (SEK 24,750,000) to Fenix in Zambia between now and 2020 while USAID will contribute an additional $750,000 Fenix.
The launch in Zambia represents the first step in Fenix’s expansion across Africa with their flagship product, ReadyPay Power, which provides off-grid customers access to ultra-affordable solar power and already popular in Uganda. Approximately 15 million Zambians live without access to the electrical grid, representing 80 per cent of the total population and 95 percent of rural residents. Fenix will extend its own proven model for making solar power accessible and affordable, which has doubled the company’s Ugandan customer base in just 12 months. With backing from the Swedish Embassy and USAID, Fenix expects to reach 850,000 rural Zambians by 2020.
ReadyPay Power is an expandable solar home system designed to provide power to households and small businesses that the grid has failed to reach. Customers make instalments of as little as $0.20 per day via MTN Mobile Money until they have paid in full. Fenix uses these continuous micro-payments to generate a credit score, enabling customers to access additional system upgrades or financial services.
“The transformative relationship between MTN Mobile Money and off-grid energy has been an exceptional revelation. MTN Mobile Money now sits at the heart of many households, who use these simple and secure services daily to light up their lives. For us, this is all part of the mission to create mobile solutions which make a difference,” said Wane Ngambi, Head of Mobile Financial Services, MTN Zambia.
Funding from the Embassy of Sweden in Lusaka is provided as part of the Power Africa: Beyond the Grid Fund Zambia (BGFZ) initiative. This is managed by REEEP (the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership). BGFZ aims to bring basic clean energy access to 1 million Zambians and accelerate private sector growth in clean energy generation and distribution in the country. USAID’s additional $750,000 support is provided as part of its Scaling Off-Grid Energy: Grand Challenge for Development, which aims to create up to 20 million new connections in off-grid communities across Africa.
Liquid Telecom has successfully raised $700 million to refinance the group’s existing debt and to support its growth strategy as it continues to rapidly scale and expand its network capabilities and service offering across Africa.
The group raised $550 million in the international debt capital markets in its debut bond, in addition to a $150 million term loan.
According to Nic Rudnick, Liquid Telecom’s Group CEO: “We are pleased with the strong support and interest Liquid Telecom has received internationally. We launched into a challenging market, and have attracted investors of high quality – many of whom are investing in African high yield bonds for the first time. This is a significant achievement for an African tech company.”
The financing package, will be used for the refinancing of Liquid Telecom’s existing debt and general corporate purposes. The firm says the funding will enable it to further expand and enhance its pan-African fibre network – the largest of its kind in the region – and support its vision for a more connected Africa. Through organic growth and acquisition, Liquid Telecom has built over 50,000km of fibre connecting 9 countries in the region, and currently serves over 113,000 enterprise, carrier and retail customers.
Liquid Telecom has built Africa’s largest independent fibre network, stretching over 50,000km and connecting more countries on a single network than any other. The loan facility was raised by Liquid Telecommunications Financing PLC, part of the leading pan-African telecoms group which is majority owned by Strive Masiyiwa’s Econet Global.
Kenya’s mobile money integrator for merchants Tangazoletu has marked ten years of its existence with an ambitious target to bring ten million unbanked Kenyans in the informal sector through financial technology solutions.
According to Chief Executive Officer of Tangazoletu Mr.Chris Gathingu the firm will collaborate with more than 70 partners such as Safaricom, banks, Saccos and Microfinance Institutions to reach the unbanked population in the informal sector in Kenya.
“Our solutions have already reached over five million Kenyans in the last ten years. In our next phase of growth and partnerships, we target to reach another ten million Kenyans and bring them to financial inclusion with our solutions. We are also committed to a Pan-African vision to spread our solutions to other African countries. We shall deepen and expand our social responsibility programmes to support causes in the region,” said Mr. Gathingu.
Tangazoletu was founded ten years ago in a local university when Chris Gathingu, the founder, was still a student. The company has developed Spotcash (used by most Saccos in Kenya), M TIBU, a groundbreaking solution for managing TB in the country (in partnership with Safaricom, Ministry of Health and USAID).
Mr. Bob Collymore, the Chief Executive Officer of Safaricom, committed that Safaricom will work with local technology partners such as Tangazoletu to continuously innovate solutions that transform lives of Kenyans. Today, the M-PESA system processes two loans every second and has ensured that over 26 million customers are rarely more than a kilometre away from an agent. M-PESA has been responsibie for lifting just under 200,000 people (predominantly women) out of poverty in Kenya. We commit to work with local partners such as Tangazoletu to deepen our financial inclusion agenda,” said Mr. Collymore.
The Chief Executive Officer of NIC Bank Mr. John Gachora said that banks in the region should view financial technology (Fintech) companies in the region as partners and not disruptors or competitors. “There is a tendency by companies in the financial sector to look at Fintech companies such as Tangazoletu as a threat to their businesses. They are not. They should be viewed as innovation partners that will enhance their business models,” said Mr. Gachora.
While the Nation was still reeling from the effects of the outage of the dominant international fiber cable operator Main One, we were hit with the news of the financial/commercial crisis at one of the 4 dominant telecommunications operators Etisalat Nigeria. The crisis was so severe that it looked for a while that the company may go into receivership. This seems to have now been averted by the unprecedented intervention of the industry regulator- the Nigeria Communications Commission and the banking regulator Central Bank of Nigeria. For now, the banks have been allowed to take over the management and board of the company to keep it afloat while they work out a long term solution to the survival of the 4th largest telco in the country.
In an economy that has been more than 18 months in recession, this was just the latest blow from one of the hitherto lucrative industries that were considered the most bankable and cash rich sectors of the Nigerian economy. Since the successful liberalization of the telecommunications industry in the early 2000s, it rapidly became one of the fastest growing business segments in the world growing from less than 1 million customers in 1999 to more than 100 million customers as at 2015. This follows the distress we have seen in Aviation- where the 2 largest carriers Arik Airlines and Aero Contractors have been in receivership and various tales of distress we hear from the financial sector. It is fair to say that these are not the best of times for corporate Nigeria and something needs to be done urgently to stabilize the economy.
That said, what went wrong in the telecommunications sector and could the current distress have been avoided or minimized? I will say yes from my perspective. And much more efficiency and margin can be created with some innovative and forceful consolidation. The telecommunications landscape today is littered with massive inefficiencies that are very costly and have distorted the structure and increased costs. If these are eliminated or reduced, it will create a better playing field and reduce the chokehold on the operators.
Typically, the telecommunications industry comprises of upstream and downstream segments. The upstream segment comprises of wholesalers which include international cable operators, national cable operators, international voice and data gateways and national voice and data gateways. This also includes colocation and data center providers. The customers for these providers are other telcos, large corporates and government.
In the downstream segment, we have the retail services. The players here are the telcos (GSM and other telephony operators), Internet Service Providers (fiber to the premises, wimax and 4G) and application service providers (whatsapp, Facebook, skype, etc). There are of course ancillary providers who fall into the downstream such as recharge card distributors, installers and contractors. The customers for these providers are individual subscribers, homes, small and medium offices, etc.
Because of the way telecommunications have evolved, there are some integrated players who are basically shaped by their history more than any other factor. These integrated players are mostly the former incumbent national operators like AT&T in the US, BT in the UK, France Telecom in France, DT in Germany, NTT in Japan and so on. These integrated players built from the ground up because they had to create the facilities for their services to run on because in the days when the industry was tightly regulated, no other operator was allowed to compete with them. NITEL in Nigeria would have been in this category if it had survived.
Changes in 2 major factors have always and will continue to determine fortunes in the telecom business- they are changes in technology and changes in consumer behavior. The 2 factors don’t necessarily go hand in hand. A lot of the time, the technology runs ahead of consumer behavior while in some cases, technology has to catch up with consumer demand (when this happens, it is a jackpot). Some examples may be helpful here, When 3G services were launched in the late 2000s, equipment manufacturers and telcos were eager to show customers the wonder of video calling. Suddenly, you could see the called party on a video on your phone. It turns out that people were not ready for this yet, they didn’t want to see the people they were talking to for all sorts of reasons including the cost of the call. The manufacturers and telcos had to beat back a retreat and focus on the larger data capabilities of 3G networks and allow OTT (over the top) providers like Skype to fiddle with video calling until they found the right fit. Up till today the telcos are not able to find customers for video calling in the way that OTT providers are. On the other hand, per second billing of voice calls was one instance where the consumer demand was ahead of the technology and it took a while before the manufacturers and telcos were able to meet this. One of our local telcos who was first to provide this made it a game changer and reaped massive benefits back in the day.
So with rapidly evolving technology and consumer behavior, the operators are forced to continuously innovate and adapt in order to remain profitable. While they are making profits today, they are forced to envision where these 2 factors are going and how to respond to them. In most cases it involves tearing down the entire network and rebuilding it which may be cheaper but not feasible because services cannot be interrupted for so long. This makes the older operators who have to adapt to new technology have much higher switching costs than newer operators- legacy problem. This is probably the only industry where history is a liability.
So with such a situation, the odds are always in favor of the operator who is nimble, agile, ruthless and focused on the value proposition. It is always against the heavier, legacy laden and deeply entrenched player. This is one of the mistakes of the Nigerian telcos. While they are fairly new operators, less than 20 years old in most cases, they have been in a rush to acquire heavy assets including fiber optic lines across international and national boundaries, towers, switching and transmission equipment, land and buildings and so on. They have also developed these in parallel to each other thereby replicating costs across the industry and building huge operating costs. A classic example of this is in the building of towers. It is common to see 3-4 telco towers in a 100 sq.m area because according to the radio spectrum planning, that location is ideal for the towers but instead of one tower that everyone will share, every operator has erected their own. The set up cost and operating cost over time is accumulated and passed on to the customer eventually which leads to avoidable higher prices.
The inability to envision and adapt to new technology has also caught the telcos in severe slumber and led to avoidable problems. At Suburban we saw this clearly when we adopted Internet Protocol( IP) technology far ahead of the industry and made huge gains throughout the period we were a wholesale transmission provider. While other operators were still investing in soon to be obsolete circuit switching or SS7 technology, the smarter operators went for IP. Today the entire ICT architecture the world over runs on IP and those who adopted early had a stable foundation to build on. Today, the telcos are being taken to the cleaners by Over the Top(OTT) operators like WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Amazon, Google, etc. This is due to their inability to perceive that customer behavior will shift in that direction. Today the traditional voice and sms revenue that made the telcos extremely profitable has been totally eroded by these free services that actually run on their networks. Unfortunately they are relegated to just being internet/data services providers. Internet/data services are more complex to run and provide lower margins than voice and sms which has led to the current distress the telcos find themselves in.
While it will take individual efforts at each telco to change their approach and attitude towards perceiving and responding to customer demands, it is easier to take steps to reduce waste by some practical steps. If operators across the entire spectrum craft their value propositions by defining their markets and focusing on them, they can create room to maneuver. So there is no need for Main One to be a downstream ISP competing with its customers when it does not have redundancies and alternative routing to secure its main investment ie the international cable. Likewise Globacom does not need to be a national carrier building everything everywhere to provide facilities that it cannot monetize. The international and national cable operators need to to share and swap their cable capacities. They need to define and streamline their customers so that they don’t end up competing with and killing their customers. When they do this, they trigger a price war that they cannot sustain and hence a race to the grave. The proper industry structure needs to be agreed to protect operators investments and customers.
This may not be easy for players who have made careers out of antagonizing each other, so the regulator NCC may have to step in to get this done. The opportunity presented by the distress of Etisalat has presented the perfect excuse for the NCC to do just this. The template of banking consolidation by the Chukwuma Soludo Central Bank may provide the framework for this much needed intervention. Along with this consolidation, the regulator needs to establish strict corporate governance guidelines that will help ensure that the massive investments in the sector are properly secured. The Federal Government itself needs to be take this very seriously as it can be seen that the failure of such a huge institution like Etisalat can cause a financial crisis that will affect the banks and other financial institutions and derail foreign investment required for diversification of the national economy. Let this be a wake up call for all of us.
GameMine, a US-based mobile game publisher has partnered with South African’s Vodacom Group to provide a selection of its ad-free mobile games free of charge to Vodacom subscribers.
During the promotional trial period, millions of Vodacom subscribers will enjoy GameMine’s more than 175 titles spanning all major mobile gaming genres.
“GameMine recognizes the distinct value and importance of South Africa’s thriving mobile carrier market as an appropriate demographic region for our company’s product, as well as an early trend indicator for the African continent’s entire mobile industry,” says Daniel Starr, CEO of GameMine.
Vodacom is particularly a good partner for GameMine due to its over 65.2 million customers in South Africa in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, and Lesotho and Uganda. The Group also recently acquired a stake in Kenya’s leading mobile telco Safaricom with plans to across various markets. The partnership makes GameMine’s entry into Africa easy and even though the games are free during a promotional period will help it acquire permanent and paying users.
The partnership will significantly boost GameMine’s global subscriber base as well as its exposure within international mobile carrier markets while providing Vodacom’s South African iPhone and Android users with access to GameMine’s best-in-class mobile games, all of which are being provided in a fully-unlocked, ad-free manner.
According to Nyimpini Mabunda, Chief Officer Consumer Business Unit,””Vodacom is excited to have partnered with GameMine in the MegYourDay promotion. MegYourDay is the product of numerous conversations with customers, and really listening to what they’re wanting as added value for being part of the Vodacom family.”
Safaricom’s youth focused sub-brand Blaze has launched the second season of its youth focused reality show BLAZE Be Your Own Boss (BYOB) to reach more youth to join and remain loyal to its network.
“We are glad that the first edition of BLAZE BYOB was a success. We now want to build on the learnings we picked to improve the second edition. Key among the changes, we will be introducing three new areas that will help participants in building successful businesses and appreciating the need to give back to the society,” said Sylvia Mulinge, Director -Consumer Business, Safaricom.
Themed Greatness Requires Internal Toughness (G.R.I.T), the second season of BLAZE BYOB aims to mentor and train youth by giving them the tools required to be successful at BYOB Creation Camps. Safaricom will link the youth to mentors at its various BLAZE BYOB Summits.
BYOB will also introduce BLAZE CSR Fridays, a session aimed at teaching the youth to give back to the society.
The creation camps aims to have 350 participants with a pre-screening in Meru where youth will have the chance to give a 5 min elevator pitch about their business ideas to a panel of category experts with an aim to impart tangible skills onto the youth.
As the final part of the Creation Camp and ahead of the summit, all participants, mentors and performing artists, will go into five pre-identified high schools and have a 1-hour mentorship session, giving out a donation as part of the CSR projects.
Jibril Blessing-producer and videographer, Njugush- Comedian and actor, Abel Mutua- content developer, Julian- musician, Wycliffe Waweru- entrepreneur and bicycle manufacturer and Caleb Karuga, an Agribusiness entrepreneur will be among the mentors at BYOB’s first regional summit scheduled for this weekend in Meru County.
The first season saw 43% of Kenyan youth join the BLAZE platform and 44,000 young people under the age of 26 attend the countrywide summits.
Getting reliable data on consumer spending is almost impossible in Kenya and other informal markets across Africa, as there is no data collected on how informal consumers spend, who else is serving that same market and if there are any changes in customer spending behaviors.
Instead of letting businesses by buy data which might be out of date or conducting their own study which is expensive and time consuming, Safaricom-backed mSurvey, an SMS surveys platform has launched Consumer Wallet to quantify offline consumer spending habits and trends.
The mobile platform was first piloted in March 2017 with potential clients and corporate partners in Kenya and after several months it has been launched to the general public.
The platform works simply.
mSuvey leverages SMS to measure the cash based spending drawn from Safaricom’s mobile subscribers. The data is then fed into the Consumer Wallet database benchmarking preferences and expenditures of various items. With these data clients can tell how consumers in their target segment spend, know what else they are spending on and how or when is their spending behaviour expected to change.
With the data FMCGs among others will know what their target customers are buying, how much they spend on the commodity and how did they pay. With these data clients will know customers monthly average amount, spent per person, method of Payment Purchases made with cash, mPesa or credit card, the Wallet Share among others. A company can truly understand the dynamic consumer and know how much a client spends on food, how much goes toward bills, transport, airtime, alcohol, entertainment, appliances among others and what trade off does she make.
Supporting this initiative Sylvia Mulinge, Director – Consumer Business, Safaricom said, “Consumer Wallet addresses a pressing business challenge by providing real time collection, assessment and analysis of data. With the world currently undergoing an information revolution, it is essential that businesses in Kenya have the tools that offer the same advantages as those in Silicon Valley.”
And though Safaricom hasn’t updated its user terms and conditions that customer data will be used and sold to clients, Consumer wallet will empower businesses with the requisite insights to arrive at more strategic decisions, and with deeper understanding of their customer needs. The service will be available on both a subscription and license basis.
Consumer Wallet will open up a majority of the country’s consumer spending happens at informal businesses, which presents an information gap for businesses looking to explore business opportunities in the sector. Consumer Wallet plugs this gap by providing unprecedented insight into the spending habits of such “offline” consumers.
Telkom, formerly Orange Kenya is expanding its 4G network to 19 more towns giving Kenyans an alternative to experience faster Internet speeds.
Telkom subscribers with 4G enabled devices will now enjoy the 4G service in major Kenyan cities and towns following its network upgrade and commissioning of 4G sites across the country.
This follows the initial announcement made of 4G ready towns: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru, Nyeri, Machakos, Kiambu and Kisii.
Fast growing Kitengela, Naivasha, Kericho, Limuru, Meru, Thika, Ngong, Embu, Nyahururu, Narok, Kitui and Voi join the expanded list as Telkom deepens its data presence in the market.
Tourism-rich towns of Diani and Malindi and the agriculture-rich Western circuit of Bungoma, Kakamega, Kitale, Siaya and Maseno have built a viable case for 4G roll-outs.
Speaking in Kisumu when he announced the expansion, Telkom’s CEO, Aldo Mareuse says: “In this competitive digital era, Kenyans need a choice of data provider. We are not only guaranteeing that our subscribers across the country will enjoy better quality of service and unbeatable offers, but value for their money.”
Over the last one year since the change of ownership and management, Telkom has invested Sh.5billion in upgrading and densifying its network. The firm has already unveiled affordable data plans that are expected to energise the use of the new 4G network.
Existing and new Telkom subscribers are set to enjoy free 4G data daily upon purchase of any data bundle and free daily access to WhatsApp.
Telkom subscribers can also swap their current SIM cards for 4G SIM cards at any Telkom retail shop across the country.
On the 4G network, subscribers can enjoy smoother live streaming, faster downloads and uploads, and sharing of video and audio content.
On the surface, there might be nothing much from the new Safaricom logo but deep in its realms the telco is inching closer to its dream of becoming a raft or an enabling platform for just about everything away from its old mobile telecommunication roots.
As we all know, a raft or an axle is a central shaft for a wheel or gear either fixed or rotating. Safaricom’s CEO Bob Collymore speaking in an earlier interview said the firm was moving to becoming a raft.
“We don’t want to become a company for everything, we want to become a platform for everything. And in fact we’ve even moved on from using the word platform. We now use the word raft because platform is something which sits still. A raft is something which moves. And the world that we’re in today is moving at a particularly rapid pace,” Collymore told Business Daily. “So we want to be the raft that people can climb onto to get them where they want to go. We have stopped thinking about mobile phone companies being our competitors.We don’t want to think of ourselves as a telecommunications company. In fact pretty much every Friday afternoon I interview incomers to the company and we hardly get any with telecommunications background now. They’re coming from all sorts of other backgrounds.”
The first thing Safaricom did was act as a platform for mobile financial services M-Pesa then it went to power Little, an Uber competitor and Sendy, a courier firm which has since pivoted from peer-to-peer services to B2B. As a platform, Safaricom also powers Eneza Education and M-Survey and M-Tiba, a mobile health wallet and M-Kopa, a fintech firm lending solar systems to off-grid communities in Kenya.
As a pipeline model, Safaricom was acting as an airtime vendor investing in hardware and software infrastructure to make sure people could easily and conveniently make calls so it can sell more airtime. It needed a robust network capable of serving millions of customers. It did. However, with the advent of OTT platforms such as WhatsApp and Viber, Safaricom realized selling airtime won’t be dope in the next decade as voice which still its biggest revenue earner-close to 75 percent of its total revenues was headed to this VoIP applications.
As a platform, Safaricom provides Internet for these apps but sees its future beyond being just a platform as anyone can provide Internet for these apps. Therefore Safaricom is moving into M2M communications where it can power heavy automated industries which earlier wouldn’t need telecommunication services such as robust irrigation systems, video-on-demand school system, energy and water sensors, transport communication systems among others.
With partners such as Huawei, Safaricom aims to power smart cities, the government of the future, starting with the government data center and the national police control center among others. Safaricom is repositioning itself for all these with its new brand from a telecommunications brand to a digital lifestyle enabler through a new brand campaign titled Twaweza: when we come together, great things happen.
The firm says its new brand position seeks to connect Kenyans to each other and also connect them to knowledge and information in a bid to democratize technology to bring out the best of their trademark resourcefulness, creativity and enterprising spirit.
With an over 70 percent network coverage across the country and over 28 million subscribers providing over 200,000 touch points for its customers and offering over 100 different products under its portfolio, Safaricom is so close to its dream of becoming part and parcel of Kenya’s every individual and sector and government or private agency. It was time for the mobile communications better option brand, which was launched to beat competitor Kencell, to be dropped and forgotten.
4G is the new language of the telcos and Telkom is not playing any chances with the youthful segment with its launch of 4G to the home and daily free WhatsApp to all its subscribers.
The firm has also promised all its users to go and swap their SIM cards for 4G SIM’s at any Telkom retail shops across the country so that they can enjoy smoother live streaming, faster downloads and uploads, and sharing of video and audio content. Telkom also brought together youthful tech entrepreneurs to talk about their internet experiences and readiness to move with Telkom.
Telkom says its 4G network is available in all major cities and towns in Kenya. In order to enjoy the free data, subscribers need to have 4G SIM cards, compatible devices and be in an area with the network’s coverage. So far, Telkom has commissioned about 160 4G sites across the country. Just how free this data is we are yet to establish.
Speaking when he announced the new brand, Telkom’s CEO, Aldo Mareuse said: “We are living in a digital era. Kenyans constantly need fast and reliable data to connect their lives. This is the reason why we are continuously investing in cutting edge technology such as 4G and aggressively rolling out our network across the country. We are committed to not only connect the people that make Kenya move but also deliver a rich experience”.
In order to enjoy the free data, subscribers need to have an active data bundle through *544#.
Over the last one year, Telkom has invested US$50 million in upgrading and intensifying its network. In addition to the newly launched 4G network, the telco has also enhanced its 2G and 3G footprint. Telkom’s 2G footprint is currently at 95 per cent while 3G is at 55 per cent.
“Today, the capacity of our network is double what it was about a year ago. We aim to continuously and aggressively grow and optimize our network to ensure that our subscribers across the country enjoy better quality of service and unbeatable offers.,” added Mr. Mareuse.
Telkom has entered the home broadband segment with the introduction of a home data offer dubbed the ‘Home Plan’ for its home users with 4G after rebranding and leaving the Orange Telecom ghosts behind.
The firm says its Home Plan on 4G will be available in all major cities and towns in Kenya. Telkom has so far rolled-out about 160 4G sites across the country in a US$50 million network and upgrading investment. Safaricom has over 1100 sites and recently launched 4.5G in 100 of its sites.
Telkom’s 4G is supported by significant investments in fiber optic undersea cables. It has stakes in TEAMs, a 5,000-kilometre undersea fibre optic cable (through Fujairah in the UAE), in LION2, a 2,700-kilometre cable (through Mayotte in Mauritius) and in the East Africa Submarine System cable.
It also manages the governments National Optic Fibre Backbone, a national inland fibre optic cable network. Telkom subscribers are set to enjoy free daily access to WhatsApp, as part of celebrations to mark the launch of its new brand.
With the free access to WhatsApp, subscribers can call, chat and share videos on the platform without any charges to their data consumption. This offer is valid throughout the launching period.
The offer underlines the firm’s commitment to delight its subscribers through unbeatable offers and rewards with the launch of the new consumer-facing brand – Telkom.
“We are committed to staying true to our mission of connecting the people that make Kenya move. WhatsApp is a popular platform for conversation, calling and sharing in Kenya today. By facilitating these conversations we are connecting Kenyans,” says company CEO, Aldo Mareuse.
To enjoy the offer, subscribers will need to dial *544# and select the ‘Free WhatsApp’ option.
Orange Kenya was today rebranded to Telkom. This change followed the purchase of 60% stake of the company by Helios and the government of Kenya increasing their stake from 30 to 40% one year ago.
The official rebranding today marked the official exit of Orange from the Kenyan market.
Under the Orange management, the company had gone through troubling times, most costumers in Kenya were opting for its rivals mostly due to network coverage and reliability. Telkom has realized this and they today announced that they had invested Kshs. 5 Billion to expand and improve their network infrastructure. They also doubled the number of agents around the country for better customer support. Perhaps the most important upgrade was to the 4G network which will cover 9 major towns in Kenya namely Nairobi, Nyeri, Nakuru, Eldoret, Embu, Meru,Mombasa, Kisumu and Kakamega.To lure customers, the company is giving 4G internet data access for free. This offer will only be available to those in 4G coverage areas.
As part of the rebranding, the company changed its logo to a blue and yellow themed design; it’s slogan also changed to “Moving with you”. In addition, a lot of the management roles have been switched with new people in the days leading to today’s rebranding. Some Safaricom executives joined Telkom as well as Chris Senanu from Access Kenya who will be the Managing Director of the Enterprise Division.
The company is also planning to get an overhauled mobile money platform that will come to fill the void left by the termination of Orange Money. This solution, however, is to be implemented in the coming months.