Kara hosted Mr. Stephen Chege, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Safaricom PLC as one of the speakers during the Kara-Safaricom Webinar

on Leveraging on Innovative Technology Solutions to Mitigate Risks of COVID-19 Pandemic. Below is his response to questions sent in advance and through the chat box by Webinar participants.

  1. What is the effectiveness of technology in addressing grass-root communities' challenges?

We believe that mobile technology can help extend the reach of essential services such as healthcare, education, and financial services because they are often more accessible to our population. As an example, M-PESA has helped increase financial inclusion from 10% to 90% in the last 12 years. Through services like M-TIBA, over 3 million people can access healthcare using their phones.

  1. How can we use technology to collect crime statistics trends and place counter measures against criminal activity and threats?

Several encouraging use cases from around the world demonstrate that technology can and does help fight criminal activity.From the use of CCTV to crime reporting apps, we can use technology to stem crime as we can provide real-time reports on the situation on the ground. In many areas around Kenya, particularly in Northern Kenya, we have seen criminal activity go down just because we have set up a base station that allows the authorities to communicate with each other to strategise better against crime.In other countries, the US, China, or Dubai, law enforcement officers use drones, big data, or even artificial intelligence to predict, monitor, and fight crime. By applying predictive analytics and machine learning to big data, police can spot where violent crime may happen next.

  1. How can we use technology to address social vices?

I want to share a story from Dagoretti, where a young boy was recently saved from his abusive mother through Leap, a mobile health platform. Concerned neighbours were able to alert health workers using the platform, and the young boy was taken to a safe place. The platform is run by Amref Kenya and supported by Safaricom, among several other partners. This demonstrates that when partners from various sectors come together, we can achieve great results.

  1. How beneficial has technology been amid the pandemic?

As I mentioned in my remarks, technologies play a crucial role in keeping our society functional in this era of lockdowns and quarantines. Technology has proven itself a critical tool in ensuring that accurate information about the pandemic was shared with as many people as possible. During this pandemic, people have changed how they conduct business, trade, work, produce goods, learn, seek health services, and how they entertain ourselves.

  1. Any offers, discounts on Internet bundles/packages to individuals or small businesses leveraging on the internet to continue their business processes?

As you may be aware, at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we doubled the capacity for all our fibre customers so that they could enjoy more connectivity without having to pay more. This enabled more people to work and access education from home comfortably.

We have a wide array of products geared towards ensuring individuals and SMEs can access the internet at competitive rates, ranging from our No Expiry bundles to the Safaricom Easy Data Bundle packages for small businesses. Kindly visit our website for more information.

  1. How can Safaricom help in terms of those who get information of people and use it in the wrong way, e.g. public WiFi has been a problem for long?

One of the greatest defenses against data leakage is the individual customer. We are investing a lot in customer education to get people to know some of the simplest ways of protecting themselves, such as jealously guarding their device and Internet passwords.

  1. There is a discussion going on in regards to 5G technology. Can you shed some light about this new technology?

GSMA Intelligence forecasts that the commercial 5G services will be launched in the region by 2021. The number of 5G connections is set to grow from 400k at the end of 2021 to almost 12million by 2025, which is 2.6% of the total connection base. Safaricom is already undertaking 5G evaluations in a lab environment

  1. Can Safaricom partner with the government to install security cameras in the estates to curb domestic crime?

Domestic crime is complex by nature because it takes place inside homes most of the time. But should the government request us to partner to extend the current camera network covering the city into public areas in the estates, we will be happy to offer that service. For homes, we have Home CCTV, which can be purchased by any customer wishing to install private cameras for personal or family use.