Safaricom, Kenya’s leading telco by market share, has turned 19, with new products it says will remain forever young.
The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed mobile services operator on Wednesday marked its last teen year by rolling out data, voice and SMS packages without expiry dates.
The roll-out comes amid a case filed by lawyer and ICT practitioner Adrian Kamotho, who wants the Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal to stop Safaricom and Airtel from irregularly depriving consumers of their unused data bundles.
Under the new plans, which took effect immediately, Safaricom’s 33 million subscribers can buy airtime and data for any amount, starting as low as a shilling.
“As a permanent proposition, customers purchasing the new Call and SMS plans on *544# will get 50 percent extra talktime with every purchase enabling them to talk more for less,” acting CEO Michael Joseph said in a statement to newsrooms.
But the telecom retained data packages with expiry dates, meaning you have the freedom to choose.
Data plans with expiry dates are more generous, with Sh99 giving a subscriber 500MB data, 500 SMS and free WhatsApp for 24 hours.
But if you choose to spend Sh100 on a data bundle without expiry date, you will have to buy SMS and forego chatting on WhatsApp for free as you will get 500MB only.
But the most profitable company in East and Central Africa gave extra 45 percent data to its customers, especially those spending between Sh1 and Sh20.
“A customer purchasing Sh5 worth of bundles will now get 10MB with no expiry up from 7MB that would expire in 24 hours,” Mr Joseph said as he promised more simplicity and honesty.
“Today, we are starting afresh and going forward we aim to be even more Simple, Transparent and Honest in everything that we do."
Safaricom, which started operations in 2000, on Wednesday also launched a new strategy as it strives to remain the market leader.
The company, which announced a Sh63 billion net profit in March, pledged to serve customers “in under five minutes both at its more than 50 Safaricom shops across the country and whenever they call the Call Centre”.
“In addition, the company will reorganise its shops across the country to provide a more personalised experience to customers,” Mr Joseph, who led the birthday celebrations in Nairobi’s Westlands, said.
And for the first time, Safaricom is following in the footsteps of its competitors, Airtel and Telekom, by issuing free lines to new subscribers.
For the last 19 years, the telco has been generating revenue from line sales, which were retailing at Sh100, with some preferred prefixes— such as 0721… and 0722... — costing more.
“Starting 1st November 2019, new customers joining the network will get SIM cards for free at Safaricom shops and dealer outlets, upon which a customer will top up with Sh50 airtime to activate their line,” the company said.
“Customers will also have the freedom to choose a number of their choice when they purchase a new line.”
And in its bid to be more transparent, Safaricom has also revamped the *100# menu.
“In addition to the Data Manager where customers can stop their airtime from being used when they run out of data bundles, customers will also have the power to see and stop promotional messages,” the firm said.
“Customers can also view how much data they have used, get their PUK and much more on the new menu”.
But even with the introduction of the new data, voice and SMS packages without expiry dates, Safaricom is unlikely to end Mr Kamotho’s case.
This is because the lawyer also sued Airtel, which has not followed the Safaricom route.
The lawyer also made a raft of other demands which Safaricom’s birthday party has not addressed, including "the high cost of data".
He also wants the tribunal to order Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya to furnish him with their current data tariffs, or prominently display the current data tariffs on their websites.