Al Kags

An unusually happy post about Safaricom


These holidays in my shags (Malindi), I decided that I was going to get a more significant internet connection that the modem. I enjoy a strong fibre connection at my Nairobi home and workplace so why in 2016, should I not enjoy the same in shags? The most efficient choice after reviewing the players was Safaricom. They have a WiMax connection that seemed like the best choice – Kshs. 10,000 for a 1MBPS connection – pricier than I am used to in this day and age, but not bad. It took a few days to get me up and running and I have made some observations that would be worth making:

  • Sign up process was a bit longer – because getting a WiMax connection is generally an SME product rather than a private home product. The most hilarious bit of it was the fact that I had to have a cheque written to Safaricom – a cheque! Who ever writes a cheque of Kshs. 10,000 any more? And in this age of MPESA Paybill numbers and Till numbers? I can Lipa na Mpesa at Shell to buy fuel but I cannot pay the very inventors of mobile money via mobile money? Too funny. There’s an reasonable explanation but it is still too ludicrous to be worthwhile for you, my reader. Best to leave you snickering at the irony.
  • Safaricom folk really care about customers (at least I experienced that side of things) – I know we do have a great time bitching about customer service and I have had my fair share of complaints. In fact, the process of setting me up was not a smooth one – the connection just would not get sorted quickly. I had to spend a day watching the technicians work (something akin to watching ants at work – you have no idea what all the activity is about but you know they are working) and by the end of the day things had not worked out. I posted a small comment relating to point (1) above and I saw magic. Not less than 20 people – on site and at Safaricom in Nairobi got working late into the night trying to get me going. I got called by very senior folk apologising for the delay and I was surprised and gratified that they had taken a very personal interest in my connection. One of them, Agnes Gathaiya, told me, “We really care about each one of our customers, whether they are big corporations or a mama mboga. We have to keep them going so we can keep going.” I found that interesting. The sales chaps who were involved in signing me up maintained communications with me as well as techies from the Network Operations Centre – well into the night.
  • Safaricom Fibre is in Malindi – At Kshs. 5,000 Safaricom’s fibre network has been launched in Malindi. I am happy about this because it will herald a new awakening for the Malindi market following the serious downturn that tourism has taken. I expect to be converting my WiMax connection to Fibre as soon as I can.

Because of this, I have made a commitment for 2017 for Malindi – I am going to get an informal Code School working here (Remember the Tech2Shags idea – the one about getting innovation out of Nairobi? Maybe the time has come).

I will find a way to teach/mentor young people who have an interest how to code and how they could make some business sense of Malindi. And the ones that do well, I will use the companies and organisations in which I have influence to support. If by this time in 2017 I will have 10 young people being serious coders – experts in PHP5, guys who can thoroughly manipulate WordPress and a mobile developers, I will be happy. If only one of them starts some kind of online business, then I will consider myself successful.  If I see a YouTube channel grow here by December next? Joy. And I will encourage them to Pay it Forward. Safaricom is currently starting to roll out the fibre in the bigger buildings in the Malindi CBD but I understand they are fast stretching out to serve homes as well. Are you a master coder or techie or something and would you like to be involved? Comment and lets start talking.

  • Malindi is an important town for business – I have been stressing a lot about Malindi in the last couple years – you may remember this blog post about it. The downward trend of the tourism industry, the flight and demise of many young people. I have written much about it – especially here. The Safaricom folk helped me to understand that, after the usual suspects for rolling out Fibre (Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu), Malindi is the second town after Eldoret in which they have launched. Thats a big deal for us in Malindi because it says we must see what Safaricom sees and double our efforts in replenishing Malindi’s fortunes – through trade and agibusiness especially. Maybe tourism does not represent a death knell for our hometown. Now if we can get young people clued into this fact.
  • I discovered a perplexing problem. My MacBook inexplicably sucks out all the bandwidth from the Network. Its uncanny. When I sign into the WIFI network with my Macbook Pro (2015 model) it simply takes up all the bandwidth with some background process/protocol that has proven to be difficult to identify and kill. I don’t for example do torrents and the computer is mainly used for office stuff. Safaricom techies and others are stumped by this one. If you are out there and you have an idea what could be the problem – help!!

This experience has had me experience Safaricom in a really positive light especially with them doing their core business. They have made these holidays pretty happy. This experience reminds me that great customer service is not when everything works out without a hitch, its keeping the customer comfortable and in-the-know all through.

More to come as we continue.


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