Safaricom, admittedly, has deep pockets. It positions itself as a true champion of Kenyan interests, presenting communication solutions to the whole nation of people including those living with less than a dollar a day income.
But the same Safaricom is one that denies the same people of Kenya, that same Wanjiku, a chance to make a change in their lives with their incomes by charging them high costs for communication costs. The same Safaricom, as recorded in the now commonplace conversation amongst consumers, rapidly eating up into their airtime and internet bundles that deplete at rate that baffles many Kenya people particularly the majority at the bottom end of the economic pyramid that are the very same people that Safaricom says it is powering, connecting to growth.
One wonders how Safaricom uses the slogan Twaweza?
How it justifies representing the interests of the same Wanjiku whose heard earned cash it collects to declare supernormal profits of Kshs.50 billion plus in one year, gained from overpriced communications services in access fees to the internet, sending messages, talking, and sending money and payment services by the same Wanjiku it claims to Wezesha?
They have further perfected the act of making Kenyans believe that it is helping them. Helping them develop and grow, yet they are only taking the excess cash they collect in overpriced services and flaunting it as CSR and community development.
What if the services were priced fairly, based on the cost of production, enabling more affordability like its competitors, thereby leaving Wanjiku with more money in their pockets to make their own choices on what to buy, where to buy and how much.
In short, the Safaricom Twaweza and the its CSR narrative is overrated, and more of a con story well designed the hoodwink its poor customers that it is a great development partner yet it robs in daylight, transferring their hard earned cash to the pockets its shareholders.
If I were Wanjiku, I would start to think twice, do my math, and make right choices between Safaricom and its products and services, and those of its competitors who charge much more reasonable rates, and remain unpretentiousness about their purpose with no frills, no conditions, no empowerment.
Simply pay for what time you need to talk, browse the internet, access WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, send money to friends and a family a better rate at all times without paying a premium, or without being fleeced in the name of Being Kenyan, Twaweza, and empowerment through community projects that use excess cash collected from exorbitant rates and charges for services way above production costs and market rates.
Safaricom’s predatory business practises are not limited to calls, data and SMS but also in the handling of user information. Trends are emerging where many of the assassinations in the country are being blamed on Safaricom and its staff as the threshold for accessing subscribers’ private data is so low. It’s common to see police officers and Safaricom staff being bribed with as low as Ksh 5,000 to reveal subscriber locations to individuals who have not officially reported any crime the targeted subscriber has committed.
These practises are scaring everyday Kenyans and forcing them to rethink on how much they can share through their Safaricom lines.
The mobile provider’s practises are being likened to those of gambling firms like Sportpesa which mops more than Ksh 36 billion from the Kenyan economy every year while being praised for investing a measly Ksh 500 million in local sports in the same period.
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