Over the last 20 years, Safaricom has grown to be more than just a mobile service provider. It has morphed into a digital lifestyle enabler leveraging on technology driven by our purpose: to transform lives. This is thus a special birthday for us, and I am delighted to be celebrating it with our 35 million customers.
The experience we have gathered over the two decades has positioned us both as a pacesetter in innovation and technology and as a companion in happier times and in tough days like the pandemic we are facing today.
Safaricom’s first decade was built on voice and SMS, running mostly on the 2G and 3G networks. M-PESA defined the second decade as it drove further financial inclusion into the corners of this country that brick-and-mortar financial institutions would never have reached. Thanks to M-PESA, financial inclusion has increased fourfold, from lows of 20 per cent to the current highs of 80 per cent.
In the second decade, data came into being and has grown to the extent that we take pride in near-national coverage of the 4G network. The expansion of internet possibilities will undoubtedly define our journey into the third decade. It will be my priority to enhance data usage and data transparency to empower our customers to reap the dividends of the digital revolution that is sweeping the world.
Democratisation of data is important to ensure everybody has access to the Internet and the opportunities that come with digital access. Our ground-breaking affordable device financing plan, Lipa Mdogo Mdogo, is one of our key projects to ensure we leave no one behind.
Our customers have continually shown confidence in us and supported us in the 20 years we have served them. We are very grateful for that confidence and continue to do all we can to earn it. Last year, we made a new commitment, to be there for them in a Simple, Transparent and Honest manner. While this has been the case, we are committing to make it better through elevating their customer experience and meeting their needs even before they realise them.
We are committed to be the brand that will be your companion.
For customers who might have felt we were a bit distant in the last 20 years, for the next decade and beyond we are committed to be the brand that will be your companion and will care for you in simple, transparent and honest ways.
We intend to leverage more on partnerships to drive affordability and innovation. This includes, but is not limited to, GSM, mobile money services and enterprise solutions for our customers, especially Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). MSMEs are the lifeblood of our economy, and we aspire to be the partner of choice in enabling them to grow and thrive. We have already begun exploring ways in which we can partner with the government and other institutions in this regard. We recognise the crucial role of network connectivity in building socio-economic resilience for MSMEs and the society, and remain committed to building a resilient network infrastructure to ensure this is achieved and our partnerships are successful.
So, the question on everyone’s mind is; what is the next big thing at Safaricom? While I do not have a crystal glass to predict the future, I am confident that our consistent approach in developing innovative technology solutions is critical to our future. We have embarked on a new strategic plan that firmly places the customer at the core of our business.
For us to be a purpose-led technology organisation by 2025, verticals such as agribusiness, SME-focused opportunities, and health, among others, will drive retention and continue to power our growth. We are focused on being the technology partner of choice for our customers.
With 20 years behind us, our goal for the future is to continue to focus on transforming lives. I am delighted to have joined Safaricom at such a unique moment in history and I am confident that we will continue to walk with Kenyans and our customers to navigate our way through any uncertainty.
To all our stakeholders, I thank you for your confidence in us. It is an honour to lead this great company into its next phase of growth and I am excited to explore the opportunities that lie ahead.
This story was first published in the Nation Africa and is part of the Safaricom@20 celebrations. For 20 years, Safaricom has developed new technologies and innovations to support and enable Kenyans to communicate, connect and to go beyond.