Safaricom Gives M-Pesa Users 24 Hours of Free Mobile Money Transfers

5 May 2017

Money Transfer

Telecoms firm Safaricom on Tuesday said it had resolved a technical problem that caused Monday's network outage, leaving millions of customers stranded.

Safaricom's network went down on Monday morning debilitating commerce. For nearly two hours on Monday, subscribers were unable to make calls, send messages or transact on M-Pesa.

Although the telecom firm said it had repaired its network by Monday afternoon, services remained sporadic throughout Monday night and Tuesday morning and only returned to normality in the afternoon.

"We had two traffic outlets which failed rapidly one after the other. In response, as a priority, the team very quickly started running the affected functions from our redundant equipment to restore services," said Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore.

Mr Collymore, whose time at the helm of Safaricom is expected to come to an end this year, gave M-Pesa users 24 hours of free mobile money transfers as a balm for the inconvenience and losses suffered over the two days.

Safaricom's share at the Nairobi Securities Exchange lost ground marginally, closing at Sh18.95 on Tuesday from Sh19.10 the previous day, meaning that the telecom firm shed Sh6 billion of market capitalisation.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) said it would hold back on imposing sanctions on Safaricom until a detailed report on the incident is submitted.

"The authority is awaiting a comprehensive report on the incident from Safaricom in order to determine whether there was any omission on their part in line with the obligations of their licence," said the CA

Safaricom has 71.6 market share of Kenya's mobile subscription and is the largest in the mobile money business that moves an average of Sh9 billion a day via M-Pesa.

The outage brought back fears raised by the National Treasury last year that M-Pesa may have such a dominant role in the economy as to pose a fiscal risk to Kenya.

Entities as diverse as utility firms, hospitals and banks have hooked up their systems to M-Pesa.

Kenya Power, for instance, relies on mobile money for 46 per cent of its billing but said the firm was not able to quantify the impact of the outage, even as it said the effect was "significant".

"This just shows that we need business continuity plans for the banks, quick alternative routes to mobile money," said Kenya Bankers' Association chief executive Habil Olaka.

The outage on the Safaricom network also comes at a time when Kenyans are concerned about the privacy and integrity of telecommunication services in the context of the upcoming General Election.

Source: Daily Nation