Safaricom in 2020: Fired 16 Staff Over Fraud, Held Firm Grip in Earnings


2020 wasn’t particularly good for many businesses thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has seen organizations restructure their operations to stay afloat amid tough times.

One of the companies that didn’t do so well was Safaricom, Kenya’s top operator and one of the leading carriers in Africa.

We reviewed its position in 2020, and how it faired while navigating the murky waters of the pandemic.

Safaricom, in the past, has always revealed good numbers in terms of profitability, customer reach and infrastructure coverage.

However, 2020 was the first the telco reported a drop in M-PESA earnings for HY ended in 2020 Sept. The company was also forced to pick a short-term loan from local lenders, a first for an organization that has always met its financial obligations without external help.

Towards the end of 2020, we also learned that the company was seeking financial help from American lenders to launch in the Ethiopian market. Safaricom’s insistence to enter Ethiopia has been an ongoing push for many years now.

That aside, the operator has released its 2020 Sustainable Business Report, which, among many other insights, reveals the company’s current by sheer numbers.

Let’s look into some of them before a future breakdown of the publication.

Safaricom by Customers (30-day active customers)

The operator saw its customers go up by 11.9% in 2020 to 35.6 million.

Mobile data customers increased too by 14.2% to 22.0 million users.

The carrier’s mobile money product M-PESA is currently serving 24.9 million customers.

Safaricom by People

Safaricom is one of the few, perhaps the only company whose workforce consists of a 50-50 representation from the two genders.

35% of its women are in senior management as of 2020.

Its procurement spend on women-owned business has however dropped by 0.9% to 2.3%.

The carrier also says that 2.3% of its workforce is living with disabilities.

In 2020, the company dismissed 16 staff members over fraud cases.

Safaricom by Infrastructure

Safaricom’s fibre coverage grew by 34.3% in 2020 to a cumulative 9000 km.

By the end of 2020, it was serving 142K residential homes with its FTTH network.

So far, its FTTB is serving near 4000 enterprise buildings (63% up) and has connected near 12K businesses (99% up).

96% of the population still has access to 2G signals (no change from 2019). Those who have access to 3G are now at 94%.

77% of the population has access to LTE signals.

2021 would have been the year of 5G conversations, but Safaricom has since shelved rollout plans.

Its network has 15 million registered smartphones.

Safaricom by Earnings

The corporation’s earnings before interest and tax in 2020 rose by 13.5% YoY to KES 101 billion.

Service revenue grew by 4.8% YoY to KES 251.2 billion.

As expected, data revenue was up by 12.1% YoY to KES 40.7 billion.

Additional revenue growth was registered for M-PESA (KES 84.4 billion), net income (KES 74.7 billion) and fixed service (KES 9.0 billion).

Voice and messaging revenues, however, recorded a drop by 1.4% and 12.4% to KES 94.5 billion and KES 17.2 billion, respectively.

“As we focus on the next phase of our journey, we remain steadfast not only on our Transforming Lives purpose but also on our vision to be a purpose-led technology company. Through being digital- first and an insight-led organization, our aim is to continue delivering a wide range of products and services designed to present sustainable solutions to some of society’s most pressing challenges,” says CEO Peter Ndegwa.