Safaricom is trying to be like Nokia of old

I’ve been trying to understand Safaricom with their recent products in the voice/SMS/data segment, and I can only say they have a Nokia or Samsung approach to things. Throw everything to the wall and see what sticks.

If you remember Nokia, pre-Windows days, they’d release so many devices in so many segments, sometimes devices overlapping in same segments, all in the name of providing options for everyone. One would argue it won them the leading smartphone company of that time.

Samsung took this same approach threw everything into the Galaxy, they sort of came back to consolidating device categories, the structures are a bit easier to read now.

Then there is Safaricom. It started with them being rattled by Airtel with Unliminet, and they did poach that office to work on their next products, came up with Blaze youth product, a model that’s an ‘innovation’ of Frank by OCBC from Singapore, something that CBA has perfected (story for another day), they also came up with Flex, a product targeted at an older demo, I am not sure it went the way they wanted though. Then there is Tunukiwa bundles, something that if I understand correctly is an algorithm based bundling product that bases the offers Safaricom offers you for bundled prices on how you consume their products. If you use more data, less SMS they will try to package more data bundles, more SMS for a certain price.

Now this brings one thing. It’s possible for one to be on Blaze, then subscribe to the Safaricom daily bundles, that have SMS and data, and Tunukiwa daily bundles, that could have SMS and data. It’s also possible to be on Flex and subscribe to these same options. Remember Blaze does give you custom options on what you prefer spending your money on, whether voice, SMS or data. Flex does the same, in a different way though. Safaricom Advantage users get their own version as well. Pay at the start of the month for a certain number of SMS, voice minutes and data.

If you have no plan as well, you get the options of complete free range, get airtime minutes raw, purchase data bundles in their raw form as well, or get into either Tunukiwa or Daily bundles. All these options are available across the board. And unless you opt out of their promotional text messages, you will most probably be reminded of each one of these options regularly.

Throw everything to the wall, see which sticks.


Safaricom is a local technology behemoth,i think what they are trying to do is to look for exciting new areas of growth while trying to avoid being disrupted…hence the "throw everything to the wall,see which sticks’ approach…they can afford to do that because they have the capital,technical talent and legal muscle to stifle local innovations.

The thing is,Safaricom still fails to realize that it is slowly becoming a legacy company,very ripe for disruption.Data is still the future,i believe a purely wireless internet service provider that invests in citywide,nationwide wifi can be a huge disrupter to safaricom…voice,messaging is not data driven.

We still don’t have city wide wifi deployments,millions of devices in kenya have wifi b\g\n\ac capability…so onboarding is the challenge,how to get local consumers to tap into and migrate fully into such a network as quickly as possible while providing differentiated offerings and products that keep customers stuck on the wifi network.

This means such a provider needs to build a software platform architecture that manages and coordinates all these services through a portal(think loopnet),that allows the company to capture consumer data,sentiments and allows them to take advantage of mobile platforms like iOS and android to delivery targeted advertising and marketing products e.t.c…

Executing on such a strategy means 4G\3G\2G networks can be leapfrogged by a pure wifi model over tv space spectrum(think microsoft initiative in nanyuki)…products like MPESA can be substituted by a blockchain alternative purely running on data instead of USSD,Messaging can be substituted using RCS over data and voice via VoIP…

I think blaze and flex are a failure coz safaricom is too mean. They do not want to give customers bundles that are truly affordable. The tinkering they are doing in the same of new products are bound to fail sooner than later. The future of telecoms is the in INTERNET because i think we will reach a point where calls, messages, everything will be Internet based.

Just learnt a few days ago that you can’t buy the fkex bundles while on postpay if you still have minutes, sms or data, this locks out almost all postpay guys because I still have like 10,000 sms valid till 2036,and 2000 minutes to other networks from when they used to carry them forward

I have been trying to think about flex and to me it does not make sense. I use 12 BG monthly for 3000. With flex, i pay 2,499 for 3,500 flex units, which amount to 10.5 GB. The question now is why should i use flex? You see, the 3,500 units are planned to match 12 BG monthly for 3000. They have deducted 500 from the 3000 to cater for calls and messages and also give you less amount of bundles. The whole flex thing is shitty and does not make sense. This is why i say flex does not give customers anything substantial. And Kenyans are smart by the way, i do not know anybody near me using the damn thing.

1 Like

And still, Safaricom is playing that Nokia game. Look we have Symbian but Android and iOS are posing a threat, why don’t we make Meego then?

But wait, customers are calling on us to adopt Android. No let’s abandon Symbian and Meego and get Windows on board instead. Perfect :smiley::smiley::smiley:!!!

Currently, Safaricom will not listen to us. The other day we talked about how Vodacom (Now Safaricom’s share holder) but Vodacom TZ in this case charges A WHOLE GB @35bob!!! Per day. Though you buy it as 2GB for two days @70bob.

Then here in Kenya Safaricom charges us 65MB @30bob per day :neutral_face::neutral_face::neutral_face:

These guys won’t listen. But I don’t blame them. Unlike Samsung that gave an ear to fans, there is no competitor who wants to give out NOKIA competition. Kila mtu ana lalia maskio giving plenty of free calls and sms.

I hope one day these telcos will know that calls and sms won’t connect the customer to the internet.

1 Like

Dude, you are right and your observation is pretty sharp. The comparison to Nokia is point on. One day, safaricom will try to sell its Internet kama maembe and there will be no takers. I have come to conclude that Kenyans want unlimited Internet so that they can watch neflix movies, cat videos on youtube or learn a new skill like that javelin man who became a pro by watching video tutorials online.

1 Like

Very true. YouTube University has so many graduates. Ni vile tu hakunaga cert. Everyone wants affordable internet on the go.


Telkom is rebranding Tuesday June 6th, hope they have better offering for mass exodus from Safaricom. My safaricom line is for Mpesa pekee.


You might not keep ir for long either once interoperability is a thing.


Mines for WhatsApp pekee. Want to wean myself off MPESA by end of the year because it’s too expensive and the ‘convenience’ isn’t worth it. I suspect this was one of the reasons they never showed you the transaction cost because people would be more conscious of how they use mobile money going forward.

My Banks ATM charges me anywhere from FREE - 33/- upto 40K withdrawals a day, without this fluctuating tariff business - was charged 159/- because the attendant didn’t have MPESA & couldn’t take visa. Then there are stories of people saying how they’ve incurred more than 50K in transaction costs this year between Jan 1 & June 1

1 Like

I use equitel. Its cheaper and gives me freedom.

1 Like

If only Airtel Money worked on Lipa Na M-pesa outlests…

1 Like

I’m already thinking of porting my Safaricom line to Telkom later on in the year

At all those 2 merchants that accept Equitel?

I tried to send money from Mpesa to Airtel money and the whole experience was dark. I think no sane government should allow some of the things safcom does to its competitors. I had to withdraw from a mpesa outlet and the withdrawal fee was hefty. I think the dominance of safaricom is also emblematic of a failed government especially on regulation.

This is looking very tempting. First, let me see what Airtel does :slight_smile:


I agree with you that it is problematic sending cash from one network to another. I love Airtel Money specifically because of the VISA card. I can shop online with it and even use it for shopping at stores. One time I was shopping at Nakumatt Lifestyle with it and everyone on the queue including the cashier were just staring at the card with the ka red Airtel logo. That card just looks good man. The main problem I’ve had though is getting an Airtel Money agent, and a number of times I’ve gone to an agent and they’ve said that their Airtel Money isn’t working. It’s kinda frustrating. Heck there’s even no Airtel Money agent around my neighborhood! One agent even told me that they don’t add float to their agent line coz no one uses the service. Another said that hii haina pesa kama MPESA. But If I cannot find an Airtel Money agent and I’m able to deposit my MPESA, then send the cash directly to my Airtel Money, wouldn’t life be so sweet :blush:

Moving over to the regime part, I have to say that I am optimistic about the future as we have a progressive Information CS. Furthermore the awarding of the LTE license to JTL was a move that no one expected and this showed the willingness of the Communications Authority to include more players in the IT sector so as to reduce dominance by some players. Lastly, I read that CS Mucheru was influential in the push for interoperability in mobile money among the networks. So I don’t really think that it’s really much about the regime of the day but rather the work done by those put in charge of the different sectors of the economy.

Dr. Bitange Ndemo did a lot as PS the guy was not even a minister but he helped push the cost of communication down. I think also during his era we had lucrative unlimited offers on internet even before fiber cables docked at Mombasa (He had a huge influence in the deployment of fiber cables by govt and private entities too).

Unfortunately, his term came to an end and then Bob Collymore showed up and decided to even commercialize simcards. There was a time the cost of Safaricom simcards reached 250bob. Like WTF bought my first simcard 100bob in 2005 and Bob Collymore shows up and the price of the same simcard surged from 50bob to 250bob??? Anyway it’s back to 50bob at Safaricom shops.

I miss Dr. Bitange Ndemo. That guy was phenomenon, he knew so much and what the ICT sector needed in Kenya than the current CS Mucheru. To say the truth, I can’t feel effects of Mucheru leadership at the ICT ministry. That’s my opinion though.