Sateesh Kamath, Chief Finance Officer

Sateesh Kamath, Chief Finance OfficerEarlier today, Safaricom announced its Half Year Results as of September 30. Other than the usual bar graphs and charts that showcased the company’s rise in revenues that are primarily driven by M-PESA and data services, the telco spent a significant amount of time to emphasize on its mandate to drive mass adoption for connected digital technologies and apps for the ordinary Mwananchi, businesses as well as the government to drive its strategies and decisions. It is a trend that has been observed with some of the carrier’s activities as it strives to monetize its infrastructure and product portfolio to improve services and capitalizing on existing and new business models.

Based on Kenya’s ICT Authority study, it was discovered that only 20% of Kenyans have access to government services. This percentage could be higher as the study was conducted in 2013, and that jump can may possibly be tied to digitization of some processes that saw the launch of services such as the eCitizen platform that offers a plethora of solutions from the comfort of your internet-enabled device.

Safaricom has leveraged the existence of eCitizen with its Lipa Na M-PESA services because it has the numbers (based on its mobile subscription share that rose to 72.6% according to the latest stats by the Communications Authority of Kenya) to drive the success of the platform by offering a simple, secure and reliable payment system for users.

According to the corporation’s Director of Strategy and Innovation Mr. Joseph Ogutu, the government has managed to digitize services and payments on a single platform that can be accessed by anyone, at any part of the globe.

“By allowing digital services and payments, the logistical challenges of managing multiple payment points, handling large volumes of cash, receipting and reconciling payments have been alleviated, streamlining service delivery for government agencies,” said Mr. Ogutu.

“Enhanced governance structures and accountability has led to an increase in the number of citizens served, leading to an upsurge in revenue collection and improving operations to levels never envisaged.  Citizens can track their passport application progress and can collect their passport within 10 days for new applications and four days for renewals, down from several months or weeks. They no longer have to travel long distances to get access to services or make multiple trips to government offices to check the progress of their applications, a situation which was sometimes marked with incidences of misplaced files and lost applications,” he adds.

Safaricom Joe Ogutu
Nicholas Mulila. Director, Risk Management at Safaricom, Sylvia Mulinge, Director Consumer Business Unit and Joe Ogutu, Director of Strategy and Innovation at Safaricom

The telco continues to insist on the role of M-PESA in these systems. It has also been predicted that the product will surpass current forms of person to person and person to business payments. In fact, GSMA says that this form of products is creating ease for users (93 percent), convenience (56 percent) and speed (48 percent). In principle, people who were interviewed by the mentioned associated said they preferred mobile money as it cuts on unnecessary trips to government institutions that are mostly crowded, with different forms of corruption.

There are many ways to leverage digitization processes, and Safaricom wants to capitalize on this trend based on the need for customers to have friendly interfaces across all digital platforms and fast delivery of services as demonstrated by eCitizen. While this is what customers want, it has not been easy for the operator to meet these expectations based on slow adoption processes. However, these are barriers that a corporation with Safaricom’s resources can overcome, and has proved from time to time that it can build an excellent and effective customer relationship management system that uses subscribers’ data to monitor digital footprints and reduce costs.

In sum, it is apparent that Safaricom has showcased the dynamics of the digital transformation of the telecom industry because the industry is facing rapidly changing economic environment and competitive landscape that is driven by internal and external digital disruptions that paint a picture of a different future. In the same line of thought, the local telecom industry is realizing the essence of vast benefits that are gained by digitizing other industries that are out of their forte, which is mobile.

It is a promising future that has been summarized in this 360-degree video.