A few things got to me this morning when I realised there’s 4G in the remotest of places: Moi University, Kesses. I was happy and bought a Safaricom bundle because the Airtel network is really shaky of late in this place. Then I thought: Why is Safaricom bothering to bring 4G to a place like this?
Well close to two months ago, I discovered there’s 4G in Maseno University. And then the whole of Kisumu city. And then a big portion of Eldoret town. So this morning as I am pondering over the domination of the Green Network, I start listing all the great things Safaricom has announced/rolled out in the past year:
- They are the only 4G network in the country
- Blaze tariff targeting the youth
- Lipa na M-Pesa cards which are said to be coming soon (read here)
- Data Control – to stop your airtime from being used when you don’t have a bundle
- Refunding customers for Dropped calls.
And it hits me that Safaricom is working on a ‘wonderful’ plan.
Having the majority of Kenyans sign up for their Blaze tariff, giving them power to choose how they want to spend their money, inviting them for summits on entrepreneurship, dealing with the problem of dropped calls, and helping them stop loss of airtime for lack of bundles. Then giving them Lipa-na-Mpesa cards so that they can pay bills, buy goods and services, and even make online payments…
Who will be able to unseat Safaricom? Which network provider can beat this?
A ‘wonderful’ plan:
One. Almost every Kenyan uses M-Pesa to send or receive money. And slowly Safaricom is trying to make more and more Kenyans use their Lipa-na-M-Pesa service to pay bills, and buy goods and services. The cards will make this service faster, easier, and more widespread. Which would make Safaricom not just a mobile network provider, but as iAfrikan have argued, a bank.
Two. Kenyan youth spend more time on the internet than on anything else. But that’s no ones business. Safaricom came up with a really clever plan for the youth: Blaze. Make them feel in control. Give them fun, make them learn, and then make them use and stick to Safaricom.
Three. 4G network. Speed, efficiency. It is funny arguing over the need for 4G networks when 3G serves us just good. This is a common argument especially among university students. “Why 4G yet 3G gives me everything while draining my battery, and bundles.” But as people begin to use the 4G network, they discover the speeds and are amazed. We tried it out with a couple of people, and they are looking for 4G phones already. And 4G phones are now everywhere; online, and in (you guessed it) Safaricom shops.
Future of other providers:
Airtel Kenya, and many have said this, always feels dysfunctional. And like I have said in the past; they act like a mismanaged Startup. If they want to survive in the coming years, then some drastic measures need to be taken. Like ensuring more independence from the greater Airtel. The Kenyan market must be approached very uniquely.
Orange on the other hand, looks like a team that has given up but is being forced to soldier on. See the way in athletics the last runner has been overlapped even twice but continues on… Yes. Maybe the new owners of Orange (or whatever name they’ll give it in future) will change things.
Equitel and Yu, to me, are just Airtel networks and I wouldn’t say anything about them, since I know nothing. Well I know Equitel is my bank account on my phone (which sought of threatens M-Pesa), but that’s all. As for Yu, we already said goodbye didn’t we?
The wonderful Safaricom plan is only good for Safaricom and its shareholders. It is also good for people studying market domination, and how to plan for the future (if I put it like so).
For the rest of us Kenyans it isn’t something to be excited about. It means domination. It means one network to rule them all. It means a lack of choice and variety.
Something should be done. Take a look at Tanzania for example. Very many service providers exist. And they get to enjoy very cheap rates because of all the competition.
It seems no one can compete with Safaricom right now. Should we be worried?