They have the financial muscle, they definitely have the brains and they have the balls. Couple these with no sincere sense of Social responsibility and you have a market giant that just won’t stop. I can just picture Rene Meza sitting in some huge conference room, stroking his Latino hair (no beard to stroke like big Mike) and wondering, ‘What the #### just happenned? Coño!!’.

But this is not about Rene Meza. I have been up and about the blogosphere, reading the rants especially from our leading Local webpreneurs including @whiteafrican, @njihia and @salim about how Safaricom has screwed them and many other developers around by adopting Mxit (the social chat application from South Africa) as their preferred platform for this service (check out yesterday’s Nation newspaper for 7 pages worth of advertising information).

Yes, they will definitely have at least 10 million users using this new service before you know it. They will make millions, no, billions from it. They will then have enough money to jump on to the next big foreign innovation, localize it and make more billions. CCK can stifle their calling rates all they can, introduce automatic line switching and whatever other noose they think they can use to rein in Safaricom. The future is in Data, Safaricom knows it, and as always, they are banking truckloads of money on it.

How exactly does this affect local developers? You may ask. I mean, it’s their business, they are free to go for the solutions they deem best fit for their market, right? This is about earning their Shareholders more money, right? Well, sadly, you are right.

Safaricom does not owe any developer anything! They have no obligation whatsoever to source for their platforms locally (unless Government dictates so) and if they get wind of some innovative local product, they are free to go ahead and replicate it on their own and commercialize the idea (Unless we have systems in place to verify that the implementing that idea was a violation of some poor developer’s intellectual rights). Oh, and if you approach Safaricom with an idea for a new product, and they turn it down, they can still go ahead and implement it, without your consent, and not give you a penny for it. I’m serious, read their Policy on unsolicited ideas here. Here is the best part, there is nothing you can do about it, Ha!

Funny, isn’t it?

So, instead of ranting on with the rest of the pack about Safaricom and their barbarian tactics, how about some constructive suggestions?

  1. Developers should leave Safaricom alone. If they don’t want your ideas, accept it, deal with it, and try out Zain, Yu or Orange. If they also refuse your idea, then maybe it wasn’t so good in the first place.
  2. Local funding is hard to find (Ask Symbiotic). The old men (who have the money) believe in land, crops and the stock exchange. Tangible investments they call them. The government is busy giving manual jobs to semi-literate youths in the country side so their coffers are a little stifled for now. Seek funding elsewhere, far far away from here. (Hopefully ill be able to share some ideas with you here soon)
  3. Start small. Kenyans have an interesting way of blowing up an idea if it excites them enough (Read Makmende, Facebook etc.). Safaricom didn’t start big (If you remember, Kencel used to be the market leader).

Congratulations to Safaricom on their new Revolutionary service. Let me see if i can reach @pkukubo regarding this intellectual rights issue.


  1. 1 Mgangagenge November 9, 2010 at 6:18 am

    Birrions gani? Hiyo MXit hata sinjawahi tumia mpaka saa hii! Heri ata 2ngo!

  2. 2 Athman Mohamed March 19, 2011 at 11:48 am

    When you reach Paul Kukubo, please ask him how he felt when Safaricom ripped him off in a similar style in 1999/2000… I was there. Ask Kukubo how he feels about “Life in Green” and MobilePlanet.

    It’s always good to get full facts before taking sides. Don’t you think?

  1. 1 Tweets that mention Oops! Safaricom did it again! Mxit Style. « Intervangelist Kenya -- Topsy.com Trackback on May 22, 2010 at 7:53 am
  2. 2 Monday Moments Ep 11 – The Best 7 of 2010!! « Intervangelist East Africa Trackback on December 5, 2010 at 2:42 pm

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