Kenya: Safaricom Seeks State Partnership

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Listed mobile phone firm, Safaricom Ltd is anchoring itself to provide shared services to the government as the latter moves to embrace information communications and technology. Though the government expects to discharge its duties efficiently to the people of Kenya through e-government, this has created barriers to service delivery due to limited Internet access among intended users.

The mobile phone is seen as key in overcoming this obstacle. A combination of
M-Pesa in payment of services rendered to the public and the use of text message for enquiries will open up e-government services.

To achieve this, the Kenya ICT Board and Safaricom will be hosting permanent secretaries and MPs in Mombasa next week to build capacity on implementation of ICT projects. "As a major player in the fixed and mobile data market, we recognise the government's position as a key buyer and catalyst of demand for ICT and data products which is why we are sponsoring this meeting," Safaricom Chief Executive Michael Joseph told journalists on Wednesday.

The objective of the forum is to increase the understanding of government officials the need for shared and managed services. The operator is banking on its wide customer base and expansive network infrastructure to partner with the government.

"The government is willing to partner with local companies that have the capacity to offer these services that are crucial to service delivery. We will be partnering with operators, for example, in building a data centre," said Information and Communication PS Bitange Ndemo.

Currently, Safaricom is the only operator linking up with the government in the roll out of digital villages. This follows a delay in the release of committed funds by the World Bank to set up the centres.

"The Board created the connected government summit to establish the priority areas where the private sector and the government can partner to deliver efficient services," said Mr Paul Kukubo, chief executive of the ICT Board.