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Monday, March 17, 2008

Safaricom Introduces 20 Bob Scratch Card As Government Continues To Ignore The Masses

Although it has not officially been announced impeccable sources on the ground inform me that Safaricom agents started selling Kshs 20 (approx US 30 cents) scratch cards today.

Is it any wonder that Michael Joseph’s company is the most profitable outfit in East and Central Africa and probably beyond? And if you want to know their secret, it is really very simple. They listen to the common man and they don’t just listen, they act.

This is in sharp contrast to the political class who have no interest in the common man at all. In fact it is ion their best interests if the ordinary folk remain as poor as possible so that they can bribe them to vote them back into power when the elections come round again.

Ironically on the same day that 20 bob scratch cards were introduced there were running battles along Jogoo road where matatu touts and drivers went on strike over the inadequate facilities at the new matatu terminus in Muthurwa which was created when the government banned matatus from entering the CBD. One protestor interviewed by a local TV station put everything into perspective rather neatly. He said that there were many homes where there were at least 3 private cars. One for the husband, another for the wife and a third one to take children to school. So what was the logic of banning matatus from the CBD? It was better to ban private vehicles. He added that the government should realize that matatus served the majority whom they should take care of.

That simple logic awed me.

Now my question is simple. Will ODM’s enmtry into government change the way government does things? Will ODM succeed where ODM-K failed because I do not hear Kalonzo Musyoka talking about a 24 hour economy and the creation of jobs for ordinary Kenyans. If he fears getting fired, why doesn’t he just voice his ideas and incase he is fired he will be extremely popular with Kenyans.

My apologies for publishing such a naïve thought in this respectable blog. The truth is that the political class would care less if there are no jobs created this year. Their main concern is themselves and their plans.

Yet the success of Safaricom sends forth a very loud and clear loud message. The message is that Kenya has a huge active hardworking population that can be exploited for the benefit of the country. If we can change our economic think for one minute and emulate the good things in countries like China, a double digit growth of the Kenyan economy is very feasible and not the 7 per cent growth on paper that has shed hundreds of thousands of jobs and caused so much misery that it was no surprise that economic growth fell flat on it’s face as a campaign tool in the December 2007 elections. Just as we predicted in this blog.

Sadly the extremely old and ancient thinking in our government will never see the huge well-educated labour force that is unequalled in Africa as an asset. Even when the huge sum of remittances from Kenyans abroad remains the number one foreign exchange earner. They still can’t see. By the way with tourism dead now, forex from Kenyans in the diasporas is the undisputed number one forex earner without a single close competitor.

P.S. Introducing a 20 bob scratch card may look like a simple thing to do but Safaricom have had to make many modifications to their high security scratch cards for a number of years to reach that place where 20 bob cards would be viable. And that is no mean feat. Secondly without the huge and wide distribution network Safaricom currently has and enough numbers such a small denomination card can easily turn out to be more of a headache than an innovation for higher profits.


Anonymous said...

I think Safaricom has been very successful due to their work ethic and listening to the public on what is best for them. The 20 bob card is good and will even be better if the rates come down. About the matatus, I appreciate the work they do in bringing people to work every morning but some drivers are just nebulous and need to go back to a driving school with more emphasis on courtesy and not just driving skills alone. Decongesting the CBD is not rocket science but a simple multifaceted approach which will not even require vast amounts of money:- introduce one-way streets, encourage the use of buses/train while discouraging the use of private cars in the CBD, have working, real time traffic lights in major junctions, get rid of roundabouts, enforce all the traffic laws among others.

Lets see what this government does that is mwananchi/market driven as the likes of Safaricom have shown.

Benja, Wyoming

Anonymous said...

A fairly solid post. I would however take issue with emulating "....good things China's doing" one only needs to look underneath their economic wonderland facade and you are sure to uncover all that is wrong with both capitalism & communism - millions of 'migrant' workers in big cities from rurals areas earning peanuts, smog filled skies, pollution galore and let's not even get started on a pathetic foreign policy(Oil for arms in Sudan anyone?)

Gitts said...

Safcom have very good marketing. Of course celtel introduced 20 bo airtime a few weeks back with less hype. Same thing happened with airtime transfer a while back.

In my humble opinion Celtel's approach of virtual airtime for 20 bob is wiser as they avoid the cost of printing cards which have such a low denomination.

Another thing is competition is coming Safcom have taken Kenyans for a ride for a bit too long.

on traffic. bring back the buses! with proper timetables and charge a lot for parking. Will blog on this soon


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