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Huge Payday for “Please Call Me” Inventor as Court Rules in His Favour

Please call me Inventor Nkosana Makate
"Please call me inventor, Nkosana Makate (Photo courtesy)

A South African Court has ordered Africa’s second-largest operator and Safaricom’s Parent Company, Vodacom to pay “Please Call Me” inventor a percentage of revenue generated from his invention. The High Court ruled that Nkosana Makate is entitled to 5 percent of the total voice revenue generated from the service from March 2002 to March 2021.

Makate is also entitled to 27 percent of the revenue generated by the return of calls placed through the Please Call Me platform, according to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Judge Wendy Hughes ordered Vodacom’s CEO, Shameel Joosub, to complete the decision within a month of receiving the order.

“Please Call Me” allows Vodacom-linked network callers in 32 countries, including Kenya, to inform message receivers that they should call them back.

Read: Safaricom Reveals Consortium With Four Global Telcos It Is Using To Bid For Ethiopian Telco Licence

Makate described the judgment as a “huge relief” after rejecting a previous offer of R47 million from Vodacom.

The case goes back to the year 2000 when Makate, then a young trainee accountant at Vodacom came up with the genius idea.

“Makate was promised compensation. It is common cause that Vodacom has earned billions of rand from Mr Makate’s idea. Despite the product being such an overwhelming success, Vodacom refused to negotiate compensation for the use of the idea,” Makate’s lawyer Gilbert Marcus said.

Makate tried to negotiate for compensation for the product from his then employer but was rebuked, hence the court casethat has spun more than 21 years.

Read also: M-Pesa Now The Largest African Mobile Money Service Provider With Ksh1.6 Trillion Monthly Transactions

Makate’s payment of 5% of total voice revenue will be generated from the ‘Please Call Me’ service, as well as total voice revenue derived from prepaid, contract, and connection fees.

Vodacom has however said it will appeal the verdict. According to the telecommunications giant, its previous offer of R47 million was overly generous.

“Vodacom remains of the view its negotiations with Mr Makate were held in good faith, as determined in the order of the Constitutional Court issued on 26 April 2016,” the company said.

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Written by Vanessa Murrey

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