Can your Safaricom Bonga Points feed you during Coronavirus lockdown?

Rumours has it that Kenya is being locked down this week. Maybe the lockdown will start tomorrow. Maybe it will start on Friday. Maybe it will never come. But lockdown or no lockdown, most Kenyans are already feeling the hunger pangs that have been occasioned by the curfew. Restaurants, bars, clubs and churches have closed – and this has rendered workers who work in those sectors jobless. Without any other source of income, these workers do not know where their next food will come from.

Safaricom has thought of how it can help some of those who do not have money to shop for food in preparation for a lockdown or just to take them through the month of April, and has come up with a solution of turning Bonga Points to money that can be used to pay for items at any business that accepts Lipa na MPESA via the Buy Goods option. That’s according to a Press Release shared by Media Houses on Friday that read,

This campaign is a response by the company to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest being reduced income to majority of Kenyans. The initiative will also empower customers to donate their Bonga Points to those in need as a show of goodwill during this period.

“We have seen Kenyans lose some or all of their income as result of this pandemic, making it difficult to meet their needs. This initiative seeks to empower Kenyans to use the points earned from using Safaricom products over the years to pay for their essentials or to donate them to the most vulnerable in the society,” said Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom CEO.

For the next 30 days, customers will redeem 1 Bonga Point for KES 30 cents, a 50% increase from the previous KES 20 cents per point, at over 140,000 Lipa na M-PESA merchants countrywide. Merchants accepting Lipa Na Bonga will receive a cash equivalent of the points redeemed, making it a normal business transaction.

To redeem or transfer points, customers will dial *126#. Customers can redeem as little as KES 1 via Lipa na Bonga at key merchants including Naivas Supermarket, Tuskys and Eastmatt.

Since the Bonga loyalty scheme was introduced in 2007, Kenyans have enjoyed great rewards on data bundles, airtime and devices for their loyalty. “We are opening this up further for Kenyans to use during this time of need,” added Ndegwa.

The Bonga loyalty scheme allows enrolled customers to accumulate a point for every KES 10 spent on services on the Safaricom network.

The question I had in mind when I read the press release is, “by how much can ordinary people’s Bonga Points feed them?” There are a few Kenyans who have accumulated hundreds of thousands of Bonga Points, but these are the same people who do not have any troubles piling up food stocks that can last them months, or a year if the country was to locked down that long.

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Your typical Kenyan however spends an average of shs 500 a month on Safaricom Airtime, an amount of money that provides them with 50 bonga points per month. Most of these Kenyans always redeem those bonga points for airtime or Internet, so they are always low in Bonga Points.

The end result of Safaricom’s bonga point for good promotion is therefore still in the old Biblical adage, “Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them”.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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