Parliament is Not Having It About Bonga Points and Data Expiry

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We have already established that Safaricom will introduce Bonga Points expiry from January 2023. This means that Bonga points that will be more than three years old by January 1 will expire.

This development has made a lot of Kenyans unhappy, and for good reason, because they feel that the telco doesn’t need to compel them to redeem them for whatever service/product when they are not ready.

As of June 2022, the telco said the value of unredeemed points stood at KES 4.5 billion – so this move has an incentive, which is to unlock the revenue behind the idle points.

Now, it would appear that members of parliament in the National Assembly about this move by Safaricom.

To this end, they want the development investigated. But that is not all, because they also have other concerns that they think telcos have been getting away with for so long.

Parliament’s Committee on ICT and Innovation will therefore probe the following:

  • The expiry dates imposed on data bundles (not just on Safaricom’s side)
  • Speed throttling on data products by telcos

The argument here is that these services and products cost a lot of money, and Kenyans should have the longest time possible to utilize units that have already been purchased.

To note, Safaricom already has non-expiry bundles. However, the allocated units for the product are not as many as you would get when the service expires over a given period. For instance, Safaricom can give you up to 1 GB of data for a KES 20, but the expiry date is just one hour. Similar products are offered by other telcos too.

The same expiry dates are also imposed on voice and SMS products. This, according to MPs, and as first reported by Business Daily, should not be the case.

The newly appointed ICT CS Elid Owalo has also been asked by MPs to explain why this is the case.

“There is a need to protect Kenyan Internet consumers who find themselves exploited by the expiry of data bundles before they can deplete it, and deliberately reduced Internet speeds,” said Kamukunji MP Yusuf Hassan.

Going by history, Safaricom hardly makes a U-turn after it has made a decision about a given product. It axed the old-school Postpaid and never looked back. It did the same for unlimited mobile internet. Safaricom also started throttling its Home Fibre’s speeds for those who go past a given cap (Fair Usage Policy) in a move that was highly controversial but has still remained in place to date.

We will update you once we know more.

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Kenn Abuya is a friend of technology, with bias in enterprise and mobile tech. Share your thoughts, tips and hate mail at [email protected]

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