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Free calls and data bonanza as Safaricom shares profit

By Wainaina Wambu | October 28th 2020 at 07:30:00 GMT +0300

Safaricom will splash more than Sh5 billion on free calls and data to its 35 million subscribers as part of its 20th birthday celebrations.

Starting today, the telecommunications giant will spend Sh2.8 billion on free airtime in the next 30 days, with customers enjoying one free call of up to 20 minutes.

Safaricom Chief Customer Officer Sylvia Mulinge said customers who have been with the telco for 20 years and as well as those turning 20, would receive a free 20 gigabyte (GB) data bundle valid for seven days.

“Starting tomorrow (today, October 28, 2020), for one million customers every day, their first call of the day is going to be on Safaricom up to 20 minutes … Safaricom is not going to charge you,” she said.

Mulinge spoke in Nairobi as East Africa’s most profitable company, which posted a record Sh74.7 billion profit in 2019, marked its 20th anniversary in Nairobi yesterday.

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She said customers would receive a notification of their free call. “We’ll do this for the next 30 days or so until we cover the entire base of 30 million-plus customers,” she said.

She said a promotion dubbed [email protected] will enable customers to purchase 20 minutes of call time and 20 megabytes (MBs) at Sh20. For the next 90 days, customers purchasing personalised Tunukiwa voice offers will also receive free 20 minutes to call across all networks.

Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa said M-Pesa, one of the firm’s cash cows accounting for a third of its revenues, had added two million customers in the last seven months as people went cashless owing to Covid-19.

The money transfer service now has a 27 million customer base and averages 21 million transactions daily.

Safaricom also has about a 50 per cent market share of incoming international money transfers.

On strategy, Mr Ndegwa said they were pursuing a plan that would see them support micro small and medium enterprises and also move into service provision in areas such as agriculture and health.

“We’ve been a connectivity business with a payment platform. Now, we want to be a broad tech bus that enables individuals to drive lifestyles a brand that empowers micro-businesses,” he said.

The chief executive promised to “democratise” the internet through average fibre and 4G network and provide internet to one million homes and businesses over the next five years.

The firm is also targeting to achieve 100 per cent 4G access across the country by December.

Safaricom, which grew from a tiny department in 2000, has grown to become East Africa’s most profitable company - having a 65 per cent market share in the country.

The firm is set to announce its 2021 half-year results next year, with analysts projecting a 10.9 per cent jump, chiefly driven by fixed service and mobile data revenues.

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