1. Safaricom has maintained the enviable position of the most profitable company in East and Central Africa. What is the secret for the runaway success in a sector where other players seem to be faltering?

Our success has largely been driven by three key pillars, all focused on the customer journey – putting the customer first, developing products that are relevant to their needs, and consistently working towards operational excellence. Towards this end, we have continued to invest in network improvement, IT infrastructure and innovation, all geared towards support our business. This includes rollout of our 4G network, which is already in 20 counties across the country. We have also segmented our customer base for the purposes of tailoring engagement with them.

Some of the recent enhancements that we have made to optimize the customer journey are: provision of free M-PESA statements, strengthening our distribution network, deploying big data analytics, offering web self-care and reducing roaming rates.

This has translated into tremendous opportunity, with potential for more growth.Last year, mobile data, M-PESA,and the voice and messaging segments delivered robust growth. In terms of mobile data, we have recorded growth in active users. We are also seeing growth in cashless payments and increasing uptake of our loan and savings products. 

  1. Being one of the largest tax payers in Kenya, do you receive equivalent support from the Government? What is your take regarding the regulatory environment for your sector?

We view it as a symbiotic relationship. The Government continues to be supportive to businesses that have a positive impact on the economy at large. We also partner with Government in initiatives such as digitizing the counties.

Creating an enabling regulatory environment has also contributed a great deal to our growth, and we continue to engage the government on a number of relevant issues. The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) is the primary sector regulator, but we also have other regulators in the course of our business. This includes: Competition Authority of Kenya, Central Bank of Kenya, Kenya Revenue Authority, National Environment Management Authority, Betting Control and Licensing Board, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and Capital Markets Authority. As a business, we play our part with regulators including complying with regulations and laws, and engaging on key issues through different channels. 

  1. According to Communications Authority of Kenya, none of the mobile network operators met the set minimum Quality of Service (QoS) threshold of 80%. Are your subscribers getting value for money? What plans are in place to improve quality of service to acceptable thresholds?

In the last financial year, we increased our emphasis on simplifying access to our network for our customers; democratized data by expanding 3G populationcoverage from 78% to 82%; and continued investments in the network to deepencoverage and deliver best experience (2G, 3G, and 4G networks).

We have, for the second year in a row, received “P3 Best in Test”certification, which is an independent assessment against global standards. However, we are aware that there are opportunities for improvement, especially for voice in built up areas.

Regarding the CA evaluation of QoS, we have engaged the regulator, who is developing a new measurement and methodology framework that covers, among other things, data and voice services, network installations, Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF), billing accuracy and customer care. It will also cover financial reporting requiring implementation of separation of license per license. We are confident that such a framework will more accurately capture the QoS we deliver to our customers. 

  1. M-Pesa is now contributing 20% to your total revenue. Do you see this flagship being semi-autonomous in the years to come and operating to a large extent, independently from Safaricom?

M-PESA has grown massively over the years. Last year alone, the value of M-PESA transactions stood at KSh5.29 Trillion. Its use in sending and receiving money, as well as making payments (through Lipa na M-PESA) and as a savings and loan product (through M-Shwari and KCB M-PESA) has made it one of Kenya’s most admired brands at the moment. Part of the success has been driven by the ubiquity of agents, who currently number 100,744 spread across the country. Kenyans’ support to M-PESA, by embracing it wholeheartedly, has also helped drive the success. Indeed, M-PESA is the fuel of business in Kenya.

Going forward, our strategy for M-PESA is do deepen its penetration and usage, while increasing uptake of savings and loans products. We would like to grow our Lipa Na M-PESA merchants and increaseactivity level on the platform. We are also working on partnerships with banks to deliver more real time merchant settlements, as well as fueling the expansion of business to business payments inthe SME segment. International money transfers is the other segment that we are looking at with a view of growing it. 

  1. Safaricom recently partnered with the Government in the Security Surveillance initiative. What impact has the initiative had in addressing Kenya’s security challenges? Are there plans to have the CCTV cameras in other Counties besides Nairobi and Mombasa?

The National Police Service project is already showing results in Nairobi and Mombasa, where surveillance cameras have been rolled out together with a command center manned by police. The system has gone live and results so far have shown that it is an effective security system. 

  1. What in your view is the role of citizen groups like Resident Associations in the fight against insecurity?   

Security is the responsibility of every one – Government, individuals, private sector and non-governmental sectors. Thus, it is critical that everyone plays their role. Resident Associations have a particularly important role to play in convening individuals to take charge of security in their localities. Since, the home is the basic unit of a city or town or even country, coming together under Resident Associations would have a huge impact in the overall impact of our cities and country at large. Such associations also are also able to remain relevant to the neighborhoods’ needs.We are happy that the reliability of our network is able to assure residents that they have a connection they can use to summon help or monitor activities if they so need. In fact, many community leaders tell me that the simple step of installing a single base station has a natural effect of bringing together residents and enhance security efforts.

 What keeps you awake at night as far as your job is concerned?

My customers. Our customers today demand a deeper understanding and insights about their fast changing needs. At the end of the day, we aim to create a customized experience for all our customers. I also think about how to build a more sustainable business that will continue to have the positive impact it has on the country. 

  1. You recently publicly declared your wealth as a way of championing the fight against corruption in Kenya. Is there hope that Kenya will win the war against corruption? In your view, what practical measures should the Government and private sector take to eradicate corruption?

I am optimistic about Kenya and its future. I am optimistic that the fight against corruption will be won. This is the reason why as an individual, and as the private sector, we have taken the first step of declaring assets. We have also come together as Businesses Against Corruption to push this agenda forward even more. At Safaricom, we take integrity issues very seriously.

Corruption is a huge global threat. Acting responsibly, honestly and with integrity is good for business, and the future of our country. Thus, if all individuals and corporates committed to this, it would be good for the country. We also need strong governance structures as well as a massive behavior and attitude change. 

  1. What next after the expiry of your term which was extended by 2 years last year (assuming you don’t get another extension)? Any plans ofpermanently settling in Kenya?

I am still serving as the CEO of Safaricom. This remains my focus for now. Once my tour of duty at Safaricom comes to an end, I will explore any options at my disposal.