Safaricom bows to pressure, scraps expiry of data bundles

Safaricom PLC CEO, Michael Joseph, cuts a ribbon to officially open a new shop at Sarit Centre during the Telco’s 19th-anniversary celebration held at Sarit Centre. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

After years of customer complaints, Safaricom chose its 19th anniversary celebrating to scrap the expiry date for its data bundles as well as airtime for voice calls and text messages.

“Over the last 19 years, we have come a long way together with our customers. As we celebrate our anniversary, it is a unique opportunity to reevaluate our operations to ensure that we remain relevant to our customers into the future,” said Safaricom Interim Chief Executive Michael Joseph.

Joseph reckoned that it was time to start on a “clean sheet of paper”, admitting that the market leader and Kenya’s most profitable company was not always regarded as the most “trustworthy”.

“We’ve been receiving many surveys saying that Safaricom is not regarded as the most trustworthy company,” he said yesterday during celebrations to mark the company’s 19th anniversary.

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“This is the time for us to say, let’s look back and start with a clean sheet of paper…we want to be simple, transparent and honest with you.”

The respite for customers came on the back of a legal suit filed by a city lawyer against Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom over the expiry of data bundles.

However, Joseph was quick to point out that the suit was not the reason for scrapping the expiry dates.

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“You may have read in the newspaper that some lawyer was going to sue us, it’s got nothing to do with that because we started this journey three weeks ago,” he explained.

The new strategy will see Safaricom’s 33 million customers able to now purchase talk time and data bundles for any amount from as low as Sh1.

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In addition, customers purchasing the new call and text plans will get 50 per cent extra talk time in a special offer.

Data and voice are huge revenue contributors to Safaricom. Joseph admitted that the latest changes would initially have an impact on its finances but improve in the long-term.

“I expect over time to see a corresponding increase in revenue also as we attract customers from other networks because this is unique to Safaricom,” he said.

Joseph also said customers would be served in under five minutes at the company’s shops and call centre.

Plans for a new CEO to replace the late Bob Collymore will be finalised in a few months, he said. “There is a new CEO coming in shortly but there’s no other thing I can say because it’s not yet official.”

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He also said Safaricom was not worried about the merger between Telkom and Airtel.

“We are not objecting to the merger … the only reservation we have is that we have equitable distribution of spectrum,” he said. 

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SafaricomMichael JosephData bundlesVoice calls