The NRM Militia are realising it is impossible to boycott Safaricom

They call themselves militia. NASA supporters that is. As members of National Resistant Movement, these supporters have taken it upon themselves to obey orders issued by their movement to boycott certain companies claimed to have bedded the alleged oppressive Jubilee regime. The companies that were to be boycotted are Safaricom, Brookside and Bidco, but weeks into the boycott, the militia are realizing how impossible it is to boycott Safaricom.

It is impossible to boycott Safaricom for three reasons: 1. No other mobile operator can rival Safaricom in network coverage and strength, 2. MPESA and 3. Safaricom sorts out issues faster than any other company in Kenya.

On network coverage for instance, there is this Airtel ad about Airtel MiFi which claims Airtel MiFi can be used everywhere – and they insist on the everywhere part. The truth is, Airtel MiFi cannot be used at my place in Nakuru, my place in Homabay County, and of course not in several other places where my friends and family members reside. Lack of network coverage especially strong network coverage on Airtel and Telkom networks are usually tested by those who travel from home to town or within Kenya on a daily basis. If you have a dual SIM phone, just put an Airtel SIM or a Telkom SIM in one of the slots and Safaricom in the other slot. Start your journey, then monitor the network bars as you move from place to place. Not only will you realise that more often than not the Airtel/Telkom networks fluctuate to weakness, but they also completely disappear in remote, semi-rural and rural areas.

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When NRM issued the boycott statement, I thought MPESA wouldn’t be a real issue as an MPESA user could decide to only boycott the voice, data and text services but still use their Safaricom lines for MPESA. However there are those who actually decided to boycott MPESA in favor of Airtel Money. These people are now starting to realise the disaster that is Airtel Money. According to a status update of one the diehard NASA supporters, “Airtel money has failed the test”. The supporter goes ahead to state how he cannot  transfer money direct from his bank or to any other Airtel number without having to link the numbers to his account first, and he cannot receive money into his Airtel number and have it in the phone; that he has to visit an mpesa shop, withdraw the cash, then deposit into his Airtel money.

Lastly, those who boycott Safaricom must pray day and night not to lose their Airtel lines on weekends or out of business hours. If and when you lose a Safaricom line, the steps of getting a new one working is as simple as 1, 2, 3. You get a replacement line, go home, call 100 or tweet them to have them call you, you answer a few questions, then your line is back up. Depending on how fast you are, the process can take as little as 5 minutes; whether you want to do the replacement in the middle of the night or in the heartbeat of a lazy weekend.

Lose your Airtel or Telkom line on a Friday evening and you are likely to remain offline until Monday morning. Buying a replacement line to have those agents do the replacement for you is likely to fail. Actually there is one time I had to travel all the way from Nakuru to do the replacement in Airtel’s shop at Koinange street, Nairobi. I did the replacement, then two days later the line was disabled under unclear circumstances. When I tried to ask their customer care representatives (Caro and Jamo), one of the different answers they gave me was that the serial number of the replacement card was not correctly entered into their database.

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By the way, are you one of the militia who has boycotted Safaricom? How is the boycott coming along?

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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