Safaricom is locked into a serious war with Airtel over the apparent lack of commitment by Safaricom in deactivating numbers ported from Safaricom to Airtel. In communications which have been forwarded to newsrooms, Airtel CEO Rene Meza is listing all the complaints attaching a long trail of emails sent between Safaricom and Airtel. Reading through the emails gives you the picture of frustrated Airtel personnel with lack of action on the part of Safaricom.

Read Rene Meza’s email to CCK

From: Rene Meza

Mr. Charles Njoroge

Director General

Communications Commission of Kenya

Waiyaki Way



16th April 2011


Dear Charles;



I refer to numerous conversations I have had with you on the above subject as well as to our letters dated 8th April, 11th April and 15th April 2011 which remain unanswered.


The problem persists and our customers who have ported out of Safaricom are still not able to receive calls from Safaricom. This is despite the fact that we have been in contact with the Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore and the Acting CTO, Kenneth Okwero, most of last night.


I attach for your information details of correspondence between ourselves and Safaricom last night.


As you will note from the trail of emails, our Mr. Alex Kioko notified Safaricom of 1,000 plus port-in customers from Safaricom who were unable to receive calls or SMS from Safaricom in the morning of 15th April 2011.


From the evening of Friday the 15th of April to the morning of Saturday the 16th of April 2011 our Airtel Africa CTO, Eben Albertyn and our Airtel Kenya CTO Alec Mulonga were in constant communication with the Safaricom a Acting CTO Keneth Okwero and all written correspondence copied to the CEO Bob Collymore.


Despite constant communication between our respective officers almost every hour, the list of 1,000 plus customers who cannot receive calls from Safaricom has not been addressed at the time of writing this letter.


We are concerned about Safaricom’s apparent lack of commitment to resolve this issue in an expeditious manner. We remind the Commission that during the meeting held on the 12th of April 2011, Safaricom did  commit to resolve the issue once and for all by the 13th of April 2011. I attach the minutes of the said meeting for your ease of reference.


We  once again request your kind and urgent intervention to resolve this matter for the benefit of the many customers who are unable to enjoy seamless transfer from one network to another because of the lack of co-operation and compliance by Safaricom.


As you are no doubt aware, it is imperative that customers have a good experience at the outset of Mobile Number Portability otherwise negative experiences will discourage customers from ever trying to port thereby defeating the whole objective of MNP.


All operators have invested heavily in equipment and additional funds in marketing and education of the public on MNP. This significant investment in the sector will go to waste unless the issues impacting customers negatively are addressed decisively without further delay.


Mobile Number Portability is a regulator’s led initiative and intervention and cannot be left to the goodwill of operators.


We once again request the Commission to take decisive steps to ensure that this issue is resolved satisfactorily without further delay.


This should include a physical inspection and verification of Safaricom equipment and Number Portability Process to ensure compliance with the guidelines and its license.


I remain available should you need any further information.


Yours sincerely,

Rene Meza

Managing Director

Airtel Kenya



CC: Mr. Bob Collymore – Safaricom CEO

CC: Mr. Nick Read – Vodafone Group

CC: Office of the Rt. Hon Prime Minister – Republic of Kenya

CC: The Hon Minister for Information and Communication

CC: Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Information and Communication

CC: Mr.  Michael Joseph – Safaricom Ltd Board Member

CC: Mr. Manoj Kohli – Bharti Airtel CEO (International) & Joint Managing Director



UPDATE: Below is an excerpt of  Safaricom CEO’s response to Airtel CEO’s mail above.

From: Bob Collymore
To: Rene, Njoroge
Cc: Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Subject: RE: Urgent: Vodafone’s Safaricom Non-Compliance & Lack of Cooperation with Mobile Number Portability in Kenya

Dear Charles,


I’m a little surprised by Rene’s call for ‘decisive action’ from the CCK when in fact he should be aware that our respective teams have been working tirelessly over the past 24 hours to resolve this issue.  Once we had done a careful examination of the list provided by Airtel we discovered that the fault was Safaricom’s in that we had failed to provision 429 porting customers which was why they were not receiving calls and SMSs from Safaricom numbers.  This problem was fixed this afternoon and customers should now be receiving full service.  We have launched a full investigation into why this happened in the first place but have also agreed to carry out a full daily reconciliation between the two technical teams to ensure that similar problems do not recur.


Once again we welcome the intervention of the CCK earlier this week in bringing the operators together to improve this important service to customers and assure you of our continued commitment to the process that you have put into place.


Best regards