Safaricom’s new Chief Executive Peter Ndegwa must put his Telco in order.
Over the past few years, the Telco has gained notoriety for doing little, or being late in terms of controlling the data under it.
Though it is a multistakeholder effort to do things like registration of sim cards, data protection, arresting frausters inside and outside the telco that misuse its data, Mr Ndegwa has his job cut out for him.
The annual firing of junior staff that are involved in fraud is not enough, there are other major events that have dented the firms image, take for example the issue of its Chief Customer Officer Ms Sylvia Mulinge.
Online sources are awash with reports that in February 2015, Ms Mulinge, dribing a Toyota Prado, knocked and killed a young girl Mary Kusa Etale, the case which was part traffic, part murder never saw the light of the day. Some argue that this and more led to the Tanzania government rejection of former Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore’s proposal to have her head the Tanzania unit. Her name is associated with a murderer.
Apart from this, customer service requires an engaging person who is on top listening to the true needs of the people that use the firm’s services.
Many Kenyan youths have also accused the same Mulinge and other heads of innovation at Safaricom of swindling them off their ideas.
Cases of intellectual property thefts are rife in Kenya with
corporates pegging the high legal costs as a way to ‘get-away-with-it’.
They get away with it due to the prohibitive legal costs of suits.
Innovative youths are told to share their ideas only later to find out that the company has tweaked it to look like theirs.
‘The company may, for example, push for joint patent registration and offer a shares of the company stocks, but as the lengthy paper-work begins, it may alter a small detail in invention and claim it as its original own’, said one innovator
Though the Kenyan mainstream media fear tackling such intellectual property theft cases, there have been case where East Africa’s biggest Telco Safaricom Plc has been accused of ‘stealing’ ideas from several Kenyans.
Through its Zindua Café Program, where innovators are encouraged to submit their ideas to the Telco, Safaricom Plc has been accused of ‘lifting’ the MPESA Thibitisha idea (the system’s way of discouraging sending money to wrong recipient), the reverse call idea, and the MPESA 1-tap idea (where people purchase products by card or a wrist band.
Faulu Bank accused Safaricom of stealing their ‘M-shwari’ idea too in 2012.
Equity Bank was also accused of stealing the ‘wings to fly’ song from a Eric Obiero Nyadida. Eric sued the bank for Ksh10 million.
Safaricom must first of all drop its profit first approach and return to humanity first, this being the age of information, they should for example, stop charging high interest on Mshwari, Kenyans should be able to check their loan limit without the Ksh1 charges.
The abuse of monopoly power in order to make profits and charge exorbitantly must also end. Airtel and Telkom had in 2019 accused Safaricom Plc of frustrating its merger plans.
“Does the dominant player not want to see this sector grow? Is the dominant player wary of competition, and even more precisely, wary of competitive pricing, choice and value for money for the consumer?” Telkom Kenya Chief Executive Officer Mugo Kibati told a press conference in September 2019.
Safaricom entered into a partnership with government to supply ‘tracking equipment’ i.e CCTV, which later became a scandal. The short-term glory in such projects can have detrimental effects in the long term.
There’s nothing great about the Kadogo economy (reduction in size of commodities so as to fit the poor/to be affordable to the poor), the distribution of solar (Mkopa), and other technologies that are disseminated through loans is irresponsible capitalism and serves to entrench poverty rather than raise the standards of life of the citizens.
Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and other stakeholders must in consultation also confront the politics of the country if that is what is making all of them inhumane in their inventions and interventions; for good and inclusive economic and governance structure goes along way.
Lastly, many Kenyans see the Telco’s products and services as expensive.
As Safaricom seeks to cement its position at the helm, let it also encourage humane behavior that will not jeopardise its goals.
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