Mon, 22/12/2014 - 12:14
Current Issue 77
Kenya’s Telecom Experts
A year on and Airtel Kenya continue to grow from strength to strength, paving the way for other mobile operators by providing affordable, modern and innovative mobile solutions to all
Writer Emily Jarvis
Project Manager Donovan Smith
The year 2014 has been a busy one for Airtel’s operations in Kenya. From advances in its Airtel Money payment system, to a partnership with Facebook that offers free internet to users, the company continues to be driven by the vision of providing affordable and innovative mobile services to suit all. “Mobile phones are changing the way that many people live and work in Kenya. They make business easier and more efficient, help families and communities to stay in touch and individuals to feel connected,” says Adil El Youssefi, Airtel Kenya’s new CEO. “
It is our job to use our expertise in telecoms to help improve the lives of Kenyans and bring prosperity to our country.”
Airtel Money VISA Card
2014 has been a big year for Airtel Money developments in Kenya. Not only has the company launched a cross-border money transfer service pilot in November, but a new partnership with Visa & Chase Bank promises Airtel Money subscribers an Airtel Money Visa card. “The card allows Airtel money subscribers to withdraw money from their Airtel Money accounts from more than 1.8 million Visa ATM ’s worldwide, and shop and pay for goods and services using Airtel Money at more than 30 million visa accepted merchant stores worldwide,” says Youssefi.
According to the East Africa Community, mobile commerce is gaining importance in the region for its huge role in speeding up transactions, saving time and money for people and businesses. The introduction of more sophisticated financial services, such as credit, savings and insurance schemes through partnerships with financial service providers has positively changed the way businesses can operate in Kenya, speeding up efficiencies in key elements of regional integration. Customers have become more interested about the efficiency and speed of their transactions and overall experience as a result.
“There is a demand for not just convenience when it comes to making payment, but also efficiency. With this demand, we have to re-invent and innovate so that we can profitably meet the ever changing tastes and preferences of customers,” Youssefi comments.
This time last year, Airtel Kenya and DStv Mobile entered into a partnership which allowed Airtel subscribers to access DStv through their mobile network, using Drifta as a mobile decoder on Android phones. “Our post-paid subscribers can now experience the best television in entertainment, free of charge,” highlights Youssefi.
Consequently, Airtel customers would not only get the chance to get their hands on the trendiest mobile devices, but also get to enjoy up to sixteen channels with three months free subscription.
Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)
In April this year, the Communications Authority of Kenya licensed Mobile Pay, Finserve Africa and Zioncell Kenya to operate as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNOs). These three organisations received licenses under the “application service provider” category, which allows them to provide services such as customer registration, the issuance of SIM cards, billing and customer care. The operators will host their services on Airtel Kenya’s network.
Later in the year, Airtel opened the telecommunications and mobile commerce space in Africa with the signing of MOU s with host Africa’s leading airline, Kenya Airways as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, (MVNO) on its Kenyan Network. The newcomers will offer customer registration, SIM cards issuance, billing and customer care. They will also be assigned their own numbering range, and will be hosted on the network.
Use of Mobile to Pay Your Taxes
October 2014 saw Airtel Kenya agree to a partnership with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), which would allow Kenyan citizens the opportunity to pay their taxes via the Airtel Money service. Through the partnership, Airtel customers across the country are able inquire for KRA services, generate a KRA payment reference number and make quick and simple payments through Airtel Money, simply by dialling the short code *572#.
“The revolutionary service provides Airtel Money customers in Kenya with a convenient, flexible and time saving option for tax payment as they will no longer have to walk into KRA banking halls and queue up in order to pay their taxes,” affirms Youssefi.
Most recently of all, Airtel officially launched a partnership with Facebook to offer the Internet.org app to both its pre-paid and postpaid customers in Kenya. Facebook’s Internet.org app provides a set of locally relevant basic internet services free of charge in order to make it easier for people to access the internet.
“The partnership responds to the needs of our youthful customers who are in constant need to access the internet and keep in touch with events and activities at all times.” Internet.org is a Facebook-led initiative with the goal of making the internet both affordable and increasing available access to the two thirds of the world who are not yet connected; in efforts to bring the same opportunities to everyone.
As part of Facebook’s Internet.org app in Kenya, Airtel customers will have free access to: AccuWeather; BBC News; BBC Swahili; BabyCenter & MAMA ; BrighterMonday; Daily Nation; Ebola Information; Facebook; Facts for Life; Girl E ffect; Jamii Forums; Messenger; OLX; Scholars4Dev; SuperSport; Toto Health; Wattpad; Wikipedia.
Airtel in the Community
Airtel has not only strived to create a telecommunication network that is affordable and accessible to all, but has also invested heavily in terms of community capacity building through Airtel Spirit. This is in line with the Bharti philosophy of giving back to the society.
“The Airtel Spirit is the code which the brand lives by. Staff engage in sustainable community development initiatives to create lasting value that is beyond simply monetary value,” says Youssefi.