Kenya’s leading mobile phone operator, Safaricom, plans to venture into the community telephone services to tap the lower end market. Joining forces with Adtel Phone Company, Safaricom hopes to cash in on the huge untapped market through its low priced services-a key selling factor designed to woo the low income group. The new facility, the firm says, is a business tool to be used for over-the-counter reselling of telephone calls, fax and data services. "The community telephone is a ready-to-go business model that provides a connection point for a standard telephone, fax machine and PC," according to senior officials of the two firms". The firm said unavailability of power will hardly affect operations since the community phone can be powered by the electricity or car battery.

To re-load airtime in the new unit, the operator is required to deposit the required amount of money in the Adtel Bank account, then the customer service personnel remotely updates the credit via SMS to the community telephone once payment has been received. The credit updated by SMS will include the customer’s mark up. Once the credit has been updated, the operator can proceed to make calls. Airtime for this new phone service is purchased for as low as Sh15.50 and sold to customers at Sh20 for calls to Safaricom lines. Calls to KenCell and fixed lines are charged at Sh25 per minute. It is believed that an hour’s worth of airtime generates up to Sh270 profit.

Financial Standard