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Could boycott dent Safaricom's profits?

Could boycott dent Safaricom's profits?

Kenya's opposition movement, the National Super Alliance/National Resistant Movement has called for an immediate boycott of Safaricom products.

It is understood the organisation believes Safaricom interfered with the transmission of election results and thereby helped to deny them a victory in the 8 August general elections.

Safaricom was one of the telecommunication companies contracted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for both the 8 August general elections and 26 October presidential elections.

The August election was nullified by the Supreme Court over the transmission system used by the IEBC.

The opposition accused Safaricom of knowing the whereabouts of specific KIEMS kits that were stolen, as well as fraudulent results transmitted and the company refused to report it.

"Safaricom senior management knew that the results did not come from the KIEMS kits. The company chose to do nothing," said Esther Passaris, Women Representative, Nairobi County, allied to the opposition.

Their supporters have until 10 November to migrate to other networks.

Under the Economic Liberation Programme, the opposition outlined some of the companies that should be boycotted by its supporters. Airtel and Telkom Kenya, however, were not listed - even though they also were part of the transmission system in the August election.

Safaricom dealers yesterday came out to defend the company saying that over 1 million jobs will be in danger if the boycott was to take shape. They said that they had already lost business during the prolonged election period.

"Our people are the ones who have those small kiosks where you can buy airtime. Our people are the ones who run over 250,000 M-Pesa shops. Our shops give you genuine phones and try to be the face of Safaricom. These are the people who will be affected by the Safaricom boycott called by National Resistant Movement," read a statement from the Safaricom Dealers Association said.

"They were not this big (Safaricom). We are the ones who made them win customers. We are appealing to Kenyans to think carefully before they choose to fight these battles that will ultimately ruin them and the country," the statement continued.

Safaricom's sustainability report 2017 states, "The True Value assessment suggests that Safaricom sustained over 154,370 direct and indirect jobs during the year and, if the wider effects on the economy are included, this number increases to over 823,243 jobs."

The Communication Authority has also condemned the boycott of telecommunication services saying that the sector has contributed heavily to the economy of the country.

"We would like to encourage Kenyans to take advantage of the choice of service available in the vibrant ICT market without undue pressure from any quarter. The Authority therefore calls on Kenyans to restrain from vilifying business that have taken years of hard work to build. We encourage that any electoral malpractices be reported to the relevant authorities," said Francis Wangusi Director General of the Communication Authority.

Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya have initiated social ads to convince potential subscribers to move to their networks.

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