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Safaricom escapes potential Sh400m CA fine over network glitch

By Frankline Sunday | Published Fri, October 13th 2017 at 00:00, Updated October 12th 2017 at 22:24 GMT +3
Communications Authority of Kenya Director-Genera Francis Wangusi.

IN SUMMARY

  • CA made an unusual about-turn on an earlier threat to penalise Safaricom, opting instead to ‘caution’ it
  • Mr Wangusi warned if the regulator found there was negligence on Safaricom’s part, it would be liable to a fine of up to 0.2 per cent of its revenues

Mobile service provider Safaricom can rest easy after being spared more than Sh400 million in fines over an outage that occurred on its core network earlier this year.

Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Thursday made an unusual about-turn on an earlier threat to penalise the telco, opting instead to ‘caution’ it.

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“We have decided not to sanction Safaricom over the outage because it was not their fault, but we have of course cautioned them,” said CA Director General Francis Wangusi on the sidelines of a stakeholders forum in Nairobi.

A major network glitch in April saw Safaricom's services go offline for hours, affecting millions of its customers and businesses countrywide.

Following the development, Mr Wangusi warned if the regulator found there was negligence on Safaricom’s part, it would be liable to a fine of up to 0.2 per cent of its revenues.

“We are seeking a report on what happened within seven days because every operator needs to adhere to a 99.99 per cent service provision with redundancy provisions for network down-times. We can fine them, depending on the contravention of their licence obligations, between Sh500,000 to 0.2 per cent of their gross turnover,” he said at the time, adding that even a downtime of one hour in a year was considered too much, especially because millions of Kenyans rely on the telco’s M-Pesa mobile transfer service to send and receive money.

Safaricom’s gross turnover for the financial year ending June 2017 stood at Sh212 billion, putting the maximum fine the regulator could have levied against the telco for the outage at Sh425 million. During Safaricom’s investor briefing in May, chief executive Bob Collymore blamed the outage on a software upgrade that took out both the main and redundant links.

Submitted report

“The network outage was caused by a failure of two routers into one of our major data centres,” he explained.

“We have done a software upgrade. If I can describe it like that, across the network to these routers and there was a flaw in the code of that software and that caused the failure of the primary and the redundant link.” Mr Collymore further said the company had submitted a report on the outage to both CA and the Central Bank of Kenya.

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