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Safaricom takes on rivals with non expiry call and data

The launch also comes just a day after a lawyer and ICT practitioner Adrian Kamotho sues telcos over the expiry of data and loss of unused internet bundles.

In Summary

Safaricom’s 33 million subscribers can buy non expiry airtime and data for any amount, starting as low as a shilling

The telco's  dominance has been shrinking for the past two years with customers complaining of the firm's expensive data and calling rates

Safaricom's CEO Michael Joseph speaking during the anniversary on October 23, 2019./OLIVER MATHENGE
Safaricom's CEO Michael Joseph speaking during the anniversary on October 23, 2019./OLIVER MATHENGE

Safaricom Plc yesterday unveiled airtime and internet bundles with no expiry time in an effort to retain subscribers and win new one to maintain market leadership.

Safaricom’s 33 million subscribers can now buy non-expiry airtime and data for any amount, from as low as one shilling. They will also get double talk time and bundles for the amount.

“As a permanent proposition, customers purchasing the new Call and SMS plans on *544# will get 50 per cent extra talk time with every purchase enabling them to talk more for less,” acting CEO Michael Joseph said at the launch.

 
 

Starting November 1, new customers joining the network will get free SIM cards and top up with Sh 50 airtime to activate the line.

The new product comes at the time the telco is bracing for heightened competition form the planned merger of rivals Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya.

According to the industry's Q4 statistics released last month by the Communication Authority (CA), Safaricom's subscribers dropped to 31.1 million from 31.84 million same period last year, slashing its market share to 63.5 per cent from 65.4 per cent.

However, that of Airtel improved by 3.2 per cent from 21.4 to 24.6 per cent during the period under review.

Both Telkom Kenya and Finserve Africa Ltd gained 0.2 percentage points to post 8.1 and 3.6 per cent market share respectively.

Safaricom's dominance has been shrinking for the past two years with customers complaining of the firm's expensive data and calling rates.

Yesterday, Safaricom acting CEO Michael Joseph downplayed the competition, saying the firm supports a liberalised market, equal opportunities, and fair competition.

 
 
 

''Safaricom supports healthy competition. This is why we are consistently launching innovative products to satisfy market demand. Our market dominance was earned, we, however, don't want to be punished for our success,'' Joseph said.

The CA data shows, both Airtel-Money and Telkom’s T-Kash are struggling to catch up with Safaricom's M-Pesa currently commanding almost 79 per cent of the market share.

The two firms account for less than one per cent of mobile money market transactions at Sh843.95 million and Sh301.8 million respectively.

The launch of non-expiry airtime and data also comes just a day after a lawyer and ICT practitioner Adrian Kamotho sued telcos over the expiry of data and loss of unused internet bundles.

He wants the three main operators to be compelled to offer services where subscribers can roll over unused data at no cost.

However, telco said the launch of the new products purely coincides with the lawsuit, insisting that plan was rolled out a month ago.

''No one is pressuring us. We've been planning this launch for a month now. We wanted to unveil it at our 19th birthday, Joseph said. 

The interim CEO hinted that the company will announce a substantive chief officer within one year after the term the late Bob Collymore had been asked to serve to compensate for sick leave expires. 

Bob Collymore headed the telco for 10 years until his death on July 1. Michael, the first CEO was then recalled to hold the docket as a search for a new CEO continues.

The Kenyan government, a vital shareholder in Safaricom has been routing for a Kenyan CEO.

Yesterday, Joseph said the government was a leading shareholder at 35 per cent hence has a say in the company's operations.