Forgive my choice in the use of the term ‘ fleecing ’ this is because there is no better way of explaining to Kenyans what Safaricom is doing in terms of data costs compared to Airtel. There is a huge disparity in value when it comes to what a shillings buys you on Airtel and what the same shillings buys you on Safaricom the reasoning not forthcoming, for me it is very sad that Safaricom is the dominant player in the telephone market.
Orange is the other player in the market. July 2016 saw a buy out of Telkom Kenya’s stake in Orange by the Helios group which is likely to give Orange the much needed boost in terms of capital injections, we look forward to some improvement in the running of the company. Orange like Safaricom prices its data at a shilling per MB without a data plan which to me is a suicide mission for Oranif it is in any way planning to scale its business.
Now this is how Safaricom is fleecing you on data charges. I took a survey of data plans between the two service providers and here is what I found. The average Kenyan spends at least 500 shillings worth of airtime per month and that is what we will go by. On Airtel 500 shillings worth of airtime will get you 1 Gb data 500 SMSs on all local networks and 100 minutes on all local networks and that’s not all. As soon as the 1GB data runs out you get free Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter for the rest of the month albeit at slower speeds.
Safaricom on the other hand with 500 shillings you will only get 1 GB worth of data and an additional cost for SMS and voice calls.
Now, question is why such a difference in shilling value between the two service providers. Is the quality provided by Safaricom unrivalled by Airtel (and mind you Airtel has better reception in remote areas) that it enjoys an almost monopolistic market. Well, I don’t think so.
In May 2016, Safaricom recorded 38 Billion shillings in profit with a market value of over 630 billion but how much of this money comes from overcharging its services and fleecing poor Kenyans off their hard earned money. Recently Safaricom became the only service provider to compensate callers for dropped calls to the tune of one minute in calls, could that be the company’s way of throwing its customers a bone?