Random Thoughts: How the common mwananchi sees Safaricom’s profits

Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom
Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom

So early this week, Safaricom posted a full year profit of Sh 55.3 Billion. Exceptional performance! That’s close to 4.6 Billion a month or 1.15 Billion a week. The charts had it that this profit was mainly brought in by Safaricom’s Data and MPesa services.

We’ve done our homework and looked at it from a common mwananchi’s perspective. We spoke to a good number of chaps from different backgrounds and found out exactly why Safaricom made such profits.

Our peculiar habits, like Michael Joseph correctly called them, remain peculiar. Even Safaricom does not completely understand how they make good money from Kenyans. Fortunately, you can leave that to us.

All these, we collected from regular conversations on ground and on social media, matatu conversations and the now infamous “bunge la wananchi” sessions in Nairobi CBD (yes, that was quite fun idling on Wednesday incognito near City Hall)

So here’s what’s been happening to Safaricom in the eyes of the common mwananchi

1. We are becoming a WhatsApp nation

Your friends and family have stopped making voice calls. Nowadays, it’s easier to have bundles on your phone and call or message using WhatsApp. Yes, even your mom and dad have WhatsApp and they are downloading videos.

Gone are the days your folks would be giving you the “You spend too much time on your phone” talk. Today, you have to tell them to stop forwarding those 25 MB videos every morning to the family WhatsApp group. In fact, your parents don’t constantly look for free wi-fi… they use bundles. Tunukiwa, FLEX, Platinum …you name it!

2. Everybody is now showing off on social media.

Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter were once considered to be places where the few “cool kids” could show off. Not anymore. Most people now have a smartphone or two. Your cousin in Kiambu shares an Instavideo on the tea farm as he tries to impress Wanjiku. Fishermen are now using the caption #RiseAndGrind while they slice out intestines from Tilapia on Facebook live.

Soon, your grandma will be calling you to ask “Why didn’t you like my selfie?” on Facebook?

3. More of us are streaming instead of buying DVD’s

Remember when we all had a movie guy? …and we would spend that cool 50bob to watch the latest series? Those days are long gone! Seriously, who even watches a DVD anymore with all these streaming sites? If you want to watch all the latest series… you just subscribe to Netflix or Showmax and install Safaricom Fibre.

By the way, Netflix, Showmax …those are just a drop in the ocean.

4. We are consuming more video content

Remember when you actually read blogs from your favorite designers? Now they have Vlogs on YouTube. Video content is heavy and really doesn’t do justice to your data, especially if you’re keen on quality. Facebook is now rivaling YouTube on video views.

I suspect that in future before you get in to a serious relationship, if you don’t have a YouTube channel, it will be a massive deal breaker. “Imagine…… she doesn’t have a YouTube channel. How are we supposed to show the world that we are happy? The relationship can’t work”.

5. Your MPesa is now linked to your bank account.

Never before has money been so accessible. Just recently, if you didn’t want to spend on impulse, you would leave your debit card home. Now you literally have your money at the touch of a screen or at the tap of your USSD. It doesn’t help that the transaction fees are high

7. Sports betting.

Sports betting is fun. It has also become a lucrative business. There is a betting craze on literally everything. “Tubet kama leo kutanyesha…… odds si mbaya…. Pesa iko”.

The more Kenyans bet and use M-Pesa, the more Safaricom makes. Its science. We love to bet.

8. Mobile money loans.

Instead of going in to the depths of Luthuli to seek emergency finances and look for shylocks, you can now get some cash on mobile phone instantly. There are several apps for that, besides M-Shwari and KCB MPesa which are already on your Safaricom SIM cards.

Of course there are interest rates and that’s where they’re transaction fees involved. Safaricom has improved on the banking sector.

9. The Mpango wa kando phenomenon.

MPesa has become the way to maintain secret relationships. This was as funny as it is true. Think that’s a lie? Try this out for size as a pick up line. Next time instead of using “You are attractive” on someone say, “Excuse me, si nikutumie M-Pesa?” …and then see the response.

MPesa is such a convenient way to sponsor and show your love. MPesa is among the best gifts you can give anyone.

10. Boycott manenos

There is something interesting with products which are Banned or boycotted. They become more valuable. In fact, albums with a parental advisory tend to sell more. Go figure.

In that sense, Safaricom should thank RAO for profits. If you want to sell more, get it boycotted.

11. More people are now phone addicts.

Back in the day, people would be reading newspapers at restaurants. You would actually be listening to music at concerts, you knew your friends second name, nobody knew of your daily activities. In fact, a phone was for calling and texting.

Now, you ave Email, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp…….. all on your device. All these things consume data. How much data did you use 15 years ago when you had a Nokia 3310?