The streets are beautifully lined with billboards that are purple, green or orange to indicate the efforts that the three mobile phone operators(Zain, Safaricom and orange)are carrying out to woo more subscribers. Kenyans have been glued to their television and radio sets to hear news about the new services the companies unveil with each passing day.
When Celtel changed to Zain on August 1 2008 and unveiled the ‘vuka’ tariff in October 2008, Kenyans could only rejoice.
At Sh8 (US$0.10) per minute, the Vuka tariff charges only one third of what Safaricom, Kenya’s largest mobile service provider charges for calls to other networks. The new flat rate tariff charges Sh8 to call across all networks and Sh3 (US$0.04) to use short message services (sms).
Zain’s services are available in 22 African countries and in the Middle East. It has made nonsense the days when one had to carry two phones for each of the operators as communication across the networks was very expensive. As if that was not enough Zain made the users happier by launching the Club 20 services on October 30, 2008 where customers are able to send unlimited text messages during the day for a mere Sh20 (US$0.26) and make unlimited calls between 10pm and 6am in the Zain network.
This has made the other companies look for ways of ensuring that they keep their customers. The wooing has gone merrier with Orange introducing what is arguably the lowest rate: Sh1 (US$0.01) per minute for calls within its network and Sh3 per minute across other networks. Its SMS charge across the networks is a mere Sh1. However, this is a limited offer as it ends on December 8, 2008.
Safaricom, East Africa’s most profitable company in 2007, on the other hand, has introduced the new concept ‘Jimbambie’ where customers have to buy credit cards and subscribe to communicate at lower rates. When one buys the Sh20 top up card one can talk for Sh8 per minute, while the Sh100 (US$1.3), Sh250 (US$3.3), Sh500 (US$6.6) and Sh1000 (US$13.3) recharge cards gives the purchaser the privilege to call for Sh6 ($0.08), Sh5 ($0.06), Sh4 ($0.05) and Sh3 per minute, respectively.
And the future can only be better for the user as a fourth mobile telephony provider, Eco-Net, prepares to roll its service in late November 2008.
It is notable that customers are aware of what they need and since the introduction of Vuka tariff zain has been able to get an additional of 1.5 million subscribers.
The chief executive officer Rene Meza says that things will be even better for the subscribers. During the rebranding, he said that the company requires Sh25million to accomplish the various projects it had started.
Additional reporting by Ogova Ondego.