Online Applications for Safaricom in Kenya Hit 400,000

Internet

Local and foreign investors are responding favourably to the use of the internet as a purchasing channel in the highly anticipated Safaricom Initial Public Offering (IPO) according to data collected from independent website monitors.

Nearly 400,000 internet surfers have visited kenyaipos.co.ke, the official website for the IPO, which has for the first time in the region allowed electronic buying of shares.

According to internet monitor Alexa, the overwhelming majority of visitors to the website are from Kenya. However, it has captured the attention of investors in countries as diverse as US, Australia, South Africa, UAE and Zambia, who all feature in the top 10 of visitors to the website.

Still, a spot check at most city stock brokerage firms revealed long queues as customers waited their turn to buy a part of the country's most profitable company.

"Despite the website being available, people still feel comfortable buying their shares in person, actually handling the papers themselves. We have also seen a lot of new applicants for CDS accounts, which makes it necessary for them to come here in person," said a dealer at NIC Capital.

Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph hoped the website would allow investors to sample a purchase of shares electronically, avoiding the long queues witnessed at stock brokerage firms during recent IPOs.

Analysts expect over one million local applications for the share offer, representing the largest ever pool of investors to take part in such an offering.

The e-IPO solution is an Internet-based system that automates the application process. Users can access it from anywhere in the world, and are able to make their applications for shares as long as they have a CDS account.

Previously, IPOs have been executed manually, leading in some cases to slow processing, duplication and inaccuracies in allocations and refunds. The shortcomings are expected to be addressed by the online share application system being used in the Safaricom IPO.

"The high number of anticipated applications made it necessary to have a provision for online applications. If successful, the internet format will be used in subsequent IPOs," said Mr Mohammed Hassan, CEO of Dyer and Blair in a previous interview.

Business Daily