Archives For safaricom

Most technology start-ups die within the first five years. Sadly, many entrepreneurs fail to re-invent their ideas and end up being overtaken by time.

Mobile Planet Ltd, a local technology company has survived for 10 years. The entrepreneurs behind it, Karanja Macharia, Nyanjiru Macharia and Kigen Kandie say it has not been a smooth ride; they had to come up with new ideas every other day.

Mobile Planet is a licensed premium-rate services provider, delivering the now popular short-code SMS service in competitions, news, entertainment, chats and ring tones. For the last decade, they have been creating customized mobile solutions that mobile networks and corporate clients use to connect with the growing number of mobile users in Africa.

One thing that ails technology start-ups is the inability to transform great innovation ideas to profitable businesses. Before 2001, Karanja who is a Computer Science graduate had tried several other software ideas, all had died as soon as they were born. Continue Reading…

The growth of the mobile industry in Africa has been nothing short of amazing, with the mobile phone becoming a defacto part of day to day life across all levels of society and innovation happening rapidly to increase its utility. One of the  pain points that individuals and corporations are trying to address is that of taking services closer to the consumer and with that comes the issue of payment for services.

Mpesa, which I consider an outlier service in respect to its runaway success in person to person mobile money transfer, is trying to add value to its service offering by going for the business end of things. This has seen larger utility companies leverage this to increase consumer satisfaction and improve on collection of revenue. In Kenya, the Mpesa service commands a 90+% share of the market, which doesn’t lend itself well to the replication that mobile network operators are trying to do across the world as the dynamics vary greatly. Continue Reading…

syndicated from: IT News Africa

Dr Pieter Streicher lends this thoughts to what the messaging space will look like in the coming year. I concur on many of the points the raises, and believ we will see the same in the East African market.

2012 is the year the electronic communications opt-in vs opt-out debate is going to come to a head, and the fallout is going to have a significant impact on both businesses and consumers. Related telecommunication regulatory decisions are going to affect both the price of SMS, as well as the amount of SMS spam consumers receive every day – directly impacting the efficacy of the medium.

So, an important year for both SMS as a channel, particularly when used as an alert service, as well as consumers and their exposure to SMS spam.

Here then are Dr Pieter predictions for 2012 in more detail: Continue Reading…


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Technology changes rapidly and many innovations are born that allow services to be run more efficiently  and at a much lower cost. Cloud computing is one such technology that has enabled numerous businesses ensure their services are up and running without the attendant high cost that infrastructure investments  would bring. By reducing the total cost of ownership, cloud technology allows services to scale on the fly, and offer better options for data portability.  However, there are some risks associated with cloud services, though they can be explained away by simple probability and cost benefit analysis.

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The Connected Kenya Summit  concluded recently Mombasa, and with the theme of  innovating for the citizen, it maked for interesting discussions, presentations and thinking. With both government and private sector engaging, it is clear that we are making headway in leveraging information technology to deliver value to the citizen.

Slowly things are coming together with the right people in the right places and tremendous good will, both in government and the private sector. The work at the directorate of e-government under the direction of Dr. Katherine Getao is particularly refreshing and it is defining the framework that will lead to what I will call the real digital revolution in Kenya, where every citizen will have access to information and services without the mental wall of understanding or steep learning curve that most technology based solutions present; where we address 18th, 19th and 20th century problems in one fell swoop. Continue Reading…

It is always interesting to hear discussions around emerging technologies or industries that seem to capture the minds of everyone; from your barber to the executive at a FMCG company. More often than not, if the discussion is based on mobile technology, a lot of assumptions are made as to who plays what role and where the opportunity lies.

At the very top of the mobile ecosystem is the regulator CCK – Communications Commission of Kenya who are in charge of issuing licenses to mobile network operators, premium rate service providers – PRSP’s and content providers. The different tiers of licensing attract varied fees with the current cost of the PRSP and content provider license standing at Ksh 100,000, on top of an application fee of Ksh.10, 000. The license fee is annual and from year two, it  is based on a percentage of revenue generated by your firm with the lower limit of Ksh.100,000. Continue Reading…

Increasingly people want to be able to stay connected and communicate with their friends on Facebook anytime, anywhere,” said Henri Moissinac, Head of Mobile Business, Facebook. “Gemalto has developed a creative solution in Facebook for SIM that enables people without mobile data plans to stay connected to their friends on Facebook in an affordable way.

A new technology developed by digital security firm Gemalto will soon see Facebook, the world’s most popular social network, coming to any mobile phone handset, regardless of whether it has a data connection or subscription.

Facebook integration comes by way of its Facebook for SIM service, which embeds the Facebook software application into the SIM card. This means that the client will be 100% compatible with any mobile phone that uses a SIM card for its carrier connectivity.

The experience won’t be as visually aesthetic as it would be if you were accessing the social network on your smartphone but Gemalto’s solution will still be able to deliver friend requests, status updates, wall posts and messages. Users can sign up for the service and log into their accounts directly from the SIM application and notifications can be delivered to the phone’s screen to display any messages, events or posts shared on their friends’ walls. Continue Reading…

The fact that mobile is big in Africa is undeniable with more people seeking to understand how to  derive maximum value from this channel. What most seek to know is how to generate revenue from the various services that they can offer. To generate revenue, one must have the ability to bill for services and there are various ways of doing this.

Shortcodes are 3-4 digit numbers that are availed by Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s) to Premium Rate Service Providers (PRSP’s) for purposes of setting up services.  At the time of setup, shortcodes are assigned billing bands which range from normal sms rates to premium rates of up to 100 shillings. Shortcodes don’t offer flexible billing and you must choose the best fit for your service. Shortcodes attract a monthly rental fee from the operators and may attract a premium one-off fee if the code is considered “golden”, such as an easy to remember 5544 for example.

Mobile operators usually reserve the use of 3 digit short-codes for network centric services. Continue Reading…

When thinking about reaching out to the mobile consumer, we tend to gravitate more to the obvious use of sms – either directly via bulk messaging or shortcode. There has been a market for hawking lists and databases locally that has seen many hapless Kenyans spammed silly with non – opt in, non targeted marketing material.

Email seems to have slipped to the back burner as many may not have noted mobile device manufactures adapt their devices and software to cater for mobile email.

That various social networks have over one million Kenyans registered; it very well means that there are the same number of active email addresses with real people behind them waiting to be engaged. The social networks have also primed consumers for alerts via email as practically all actions that occur on their platforms are communicated back via email.

However, the rules of engagement are not far off from what we have seen adopted for the more ubiquitous messaging channel that is sms. The key challenge with email, is that delivery may not be guaranteed and if delivered, it may not be opened by the target consumer. The obvious advantage of email over sms is the amount of information you can disseminate and the ease of retransmission of your message to the social graph.

So how do we ensure that email is plugged back to our consumer communications? Continue Reading…

Mobile technology has grown tremendously over the past decade with devices becoming smarter and faster and the supporting technologies improving by the day. With increased capabilities of mobile phone handsets, there is growing demand for content that can be downloaded or streamed.

The growth in this demand and the availability of the supporting technology such as 3G, opens up huge opportunities for the local film industry.
The local film industry can explore the potential of mobile devices as an outlet for content consumption and discovery. The modern lifestyle is one lived on the go, and to fully leverage this, the industry can create “bite sized” pieces of content that mobile subscribers can consume on their mobile devices – mobisodes.

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The *iHub_ Nairobi and the Elimisha_us initiative are pleased to announce that Michael Joseph, the CEO of Safaricom Ltd, who is due to retire on November 1, 2010 will come to the *iHub_ Nairobi to meet with young techies, entrepreneurs and tech creatives and reflect on various issues including his last decade at the helm of the most successful company in East Africa.

In a candid discussion (just ten days before his retirement), Mr. Joseph is expected to share the wisdom gathered in his many years as a technology leader and his decade at Safaricom with young future technology leaders who are on the rise today. Among the issues that he may cover in his honest reflections are – his experience setting up and running Safaricom, the values that have driven him, his views on Kenya’s ICT development and its future direction and innovation.

In addition, as October 20th 2010 is Heroes day, the young developers, bloggers, tech creatives and entrepreneurs, will toast to the success of this leader, who through his visionary leadership at Safaricom has made significant contributions to the development of the opportunities they have today. Continue Reading…

A few years ago election monitoring and reporting was a tricky, tiring and often thankless affair. Dealing with Kenya‘s elections processes in the last decade, in particular, has largely involved sending hordes of polling clerks, election observers and monitors, with paper files stashed in their underarms, to far-flung areas to help record the goings-on election and referenda. Apart from being slow, unreliable and erratic, such processes have proved risky for election officials especially if violence broke out.

But things are changing. Mobile phone technology is rapidly transforming the way these national and other crucial life-changing activities are carried out, bringing with it faster, reliable and credible relay of information from outlying areas.
Apart from elections reporting, the ubiquitous device, owned by nearly 20 million Kenyans, has also helped stem incidents of violence that have in the past rocked various parts of Kenya notably in 2007 elections. A lot depends on how transparent such processes as elections are but the mobile phone is taking a lion’s share of the contribution toward this positive change.

In a ground-breaking project in conjunction with the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC), Safaricom, Kenya’s largest network operator, the world’s leading mobile handsets-maker Nokia supplied over 18,000 Nokia 1680 phones to be used by the electoral body’s returning officers and clerks in various part of the country.

IIEC had picked Safaricom after, inviting Kenyan telecom operators for a partnership with it with the objective of running an efficient and credible referendum process. Continue Reading…

The recent mobile price wars have sparked a lively debate both on and offline with people aligning themselves along various schools of thought, trying to dissect the moves by the three underdogs – Zain, Orange and Yu. While most of the discussions are from a consumer perspective, where cheaper may be considered better, we need to look at the ecosystem that has become part of our daily lives more closely to appreciate the factors at play and perhaps project what the space will look like in another five years.

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It may feel abit dumb to start off like this…but any kiosk owner will tell you this. If you all stock the same nyanya skuma, you will be left with no recourse but to compete on price. The kaching comes with setting yourself apart…I would stop here and have you call me and pay me to walk you back to the school of basics but am in a good mood today.

Like I told you before, you better stop this price war maneno or you will all soon go out of business or best bet see massive hemorrhages on your bottom line. Micheal Joseph has said time and again – he has investors to take care of, and I have to agree with him on that point, coz I would expect a divided on my shares, if I had bought like 1 million of those “papers” when the country was going green and this not alluding to the referendum. My boy Rene is willing to take a hit for the next 5 years because he has a big brother with deep pockets. Deep pockets get depleted, and if your strategy doesn’t work out, you will be out of a job – tail tucked and the Kenya operation will be spun to some other hapless investor with big visions and their head in the clouds, with grand plans of a turnaround.  Rene was on Business Daily explaining their strategy…you will remember the Vuka tariff that was discontinued…hmmm

Bwana Atul of Yu, jumped over the cliff late last night and put it out that they too had “amuad” and dunked prices to 5cts per second or more directly 3 bob per minute and 50cts per sms on onnet messaging.

Mickael Ghossein has been quiet thus far after the sparing between the Pinks, Greens and Blacks, but I kinda guess he too is thinking of their new lower price point. I am sorely hoping that his decisions will have a good measure of thought and not some knee jerk reflex. Continue Reading…