Safaricom has initiated multiple steps that would lead to a reduction in the cost of mobile data aimed at bridging the digital divide, including enhancing access to 4G network and availing affordable smartphone devices, Peter Ndegwa, the chief executive said Wednesday.
Speaking during the expansion of the Lipa Mdogo Mdogo financing plan, Ndegwa said by the time they were announcing their Half Year financial results ended September 30, 2021, they had covered 95-96 per cent of 4G penetration across the country.
According to Ndegwa, internet and mobile broadband penetration across both urban and rural areas would ultimately lead to reduced cost of data enabling affordable access at a fast pace.
“The barrier to access is is actually real…the reason why we are keen on bridging the digital divide by enhancing access to the network and availing 4G smartphones and driving affordable affordability of bundles,” said Ndegwa.
He, however, also disclosed that they have observed a “huge underutilization” of the 4 G network while other areas have an “over utilisation” which they correct regularly.
“But there’s huge data utilization and it is because although there is coverage you do not have the smartphones that allow for individuals to access and our efforts are bearing fruit. We’ve seen a significant increase. More than 30 per cent increase and people are using more than 1GB. If that means anything to anyone and also for those who are using 4G devices on our network and also you’ll have seen from the video that the effective price of data on a per MB basis has also come down by more than 20 per cent. So as we increase the volume of people who are using 4G devices or r generally the internet we expect that we can reduce the cost of data,” Ndegwa noted.
Through the expanded partnership with Google and Transsion, the company behind TECNO, Infinix and itel, Kenyans will access more 4G devices under the Lipa Mdogo Mdogo financing plan.
In addition to the Neon Ray Pro, which was the first device under Lipa Mdogo Mdogo, customers can now choose from three additional devices including itel A24, TECNO Spark 7 and TECNO CAMON 17. The devices are available at all Safaricom Shops and dealer outlets with a deposit of Ksh 500, Ksh 3,000, and Ksh 5,000 respectively, with the balance payable via flexible daily, weekly, or monthly instalments.
“Lipa Mdogo Mdogo has seen over 500,000 Kenyans upgrade from 2G devices to quality and affordable 4G smartphones. Through this partnership, we seek to meet the varying needs of our customers by increasing the selection of devices available under the world-first device-financing plan,” said Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom CEO.
Mariam Abdullahi – Director, Platform Partnerships, Android and Play Africa affirmed that uptake of Lipa Mdogo Mdogo since its launch in 2020 is proof that affordability continues to be a key barrier to entry into the digital world.
“These partnerships, we believe that we have a shared objective and that shared objective is for us to be able to deliver equitable inclusive and quality internet services and digital services to all our users. It is these key partnerships that address the barriers that we have to get into the digital world. The barriers of access. The barriers of education. The barriers of affordability are all broken when we come together.”
“This project is in line with our goals as Transsion in the emerging markets. We are a key stakeholder in digital disruption, and we continue coming up with new ways to transform lives through inclusivity across all consumer spectrums and ensure smartphone penetration all over the country,” said Ray Fang, Country Manager Transsion Kenya.
Lipa Mdogo Mdogo is delivered in partnership with Android, Google’s operating system for internet-enabled devices.
All the 4G devices on offer are loaded with a suite of Google Apps designed to give users a great smartphone experience and come with 1 GB free data at the point of purchase, and 50MB valid for 24 hours with every instalment payment.