Safaricom opened operations in Kenya in October 2000 with $25 million in the bank in a market where one network switch cost $10 million. That was 19 years ago, and over that period, the telco has grown and released so many products that have directly and indirectly shaped the lives that many Kenyans lead.
This milestone is no small feat as echoed by the telco’s interim CEO Michael Joseph, who took over from the late Bob Collymore. It is Michael Joseph that saw the growth of the corporation, which was further pushed beyond boundaries by his then successor, Mr. Collymore.
The celebration of this landmark success has been marked by the introduction of data and voice call services that do not have an expiry date, but that is not everything that emerged from the meet that was attended by hundreds, if not more, of people.
Safaricom drops the ‘Twaweza’ brand for ‘For You’
Over the past several months, Safaricom has been pushing its ‘Twaweza’ catchphrase to cement the line ‘when we come together, great things happen.’ Twaweza was introduced a little over a year ago, and was popularized so much it became a household name.
Now, this will be changing as the carrier has rebranded with a new tagline, ‘For You.’ The statement means just that: that the mobile operator is here to serve you. This will be marked by swift customer care support such as not spending more than five minutes in a Safaricom shop. The self-help *100# menu has also been revamped. Customers will reportedly see improved services, and Safaricom with its massive budget for marketing will certainly make sure word gets around about this development, among others that will arrive in the coming days.
New CEO appointment
Now, this topic has been discussed comprehensively before and after the passing of Bob Collymore. So far, we have not been apprised of who will take over from Michael Joseph because all we have are educated guesses. Rumour has it that a Kenyan replacement is being pursued, but that is not guaranteed, considering there are many other variables that must be considered before a decision is made.
Safaricom is six months away from its next financial performance announcement, and Michael Joseph says a new CEO should be here by then because his interim stint at the top of the corporation is short.
It is also worth noting that the appointment of Bob Collymore was preceded by a 2-year search exercise. The same thing is currently taking place.
No interference from the Kenyan Government on CEO appointment
It has been reported before that the Kenya Government is pushing for a local appointment, and is willing to use its influence to fulfill that goal.
However, Michael Joseph disputed the assumption.
“The government owns 35 percent of the company and has the right to offer its comments. It has not interfered with the process so far,” said Michael Joseph.
This goes against ICT CS Joe Mucheru’s statement that there is ‘nothing special about running telecoms’ that Kenyan cannot manage.
Michael Joseph had planned to leave Safaricom before 2010
The interim CEO says he had made plans to exit the institution after growing it to profitability.
“I wanted to leave because I was bored, and my management style was not popular,” he mentioned in today’s celebrations. Of course, he thought Safaricom needed new blood, which is why he recommended Collymore to replace him.
Of course, Collymore would change the leadership model set by Joseph. Whereas Michael was an authoritative figure who openly rejects the premise of democracy, Collymore was accommodative and easily blended with Kenyans.
Memory flash: Kenyans have peculiar calling habits
This statement by Michael Joseph was taken in a negative light by Kenyans. Back in the day, there were several mobile tariffs, so locals made calls at times when rates were low (off-peak). This would jam Safaricom network, so cases of outages were frequent. The entire setup prompted the statement that Kenyans did have peculiar calling habits, but in their defense, they were taking advantage of a period that was easy on their phone bill.
Nevertheless, when Safaricom hit 800K subscribers, the then CEO decided to gift customers with KES 100 airtime. However, a network glitch saw thousands of people redeem the gift severally, and the remedy was to cut the promotion. This move, however, caused a massive network jam that lasted for an entire week where subscribers could not make calls or send text messages.
Imagine if the event were to replicated today.
Introduction of new tariffs
There is little information about this development, but as early as 2020, Safaricom will introduce tariffs based on Kenya’s demographic. It has been hinted that there will be a new tariff (for voice and MPESA) targeting older customers. We will know more as soon as they go live.
Perhaps the most exciting development is the purchase of voice and data bundles that do not expire. This is something that Kenyans have asked for for years, and we are happy that the option is finally here. Voice bundles are also supplemented with an extra 50 percent of talk-time.
The details of the bundles are explained better in the mySafaricom app for Android phones. iOS customers will wait for a couple of days to enjoy this development.
[UPDATE] New Safaricom CEO has been confirmed.