Home ECONOMY Inside the Apartment Where Safaricom was Born

Inside the Apartment Where Safaricom was Born

by biasharadigest

A long time
before Safaricom became a household name, the company was one of those
government projects whose future back in the 90s could not have been
guaranteed.

What of
endemic corruption and a government that was alienated from its people under Mtukufu Rais Daniel Moi?

Well, the story goes that Safaricom began as a department of the now-defunct Kenya Posts & Telecommunications Corporation (KPTC).

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The Most Profitable Company in East
and Central Africa

KPTC was a
monopoly operator which saw Safaricom launch operations in 1993 based on an
analogue ETACS network which was the first 1G network.

In 1996, the
network was upgraded to GSM and then incorporated in April 1997 as a private
limited liability company. It was awarded a license in 1999 after which the
largest telecommunications provider in Kenya started operations in earnest.

The United
Kingdom’s Vodafone Group PLC acquired a 40% stake and management responsibility
for the company in May 2000 and on May 16, 2002, Safaricom was converted into a
public company with limited liability.

In the same
year that Vodafone acquired a stake in Safaricom, five of its employees and founding
CEO Michael Joseph
came to Kenya settling in at the Norfolk towers where
Safaricom’s next phase was incubated.

From then, Joseph,
he of the Kenyans and their peculiar
calling habits
, could not be contained.

Safaricom’s annual revenues are more than $1 billion making the company one of the about 400 companies across Africa raking in such profits.

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While the
companies in this league are pan-African in their operations and are active in
increasingly diverse sectors, Safaricom has managed to secure a spot at the
most profitable table despite operating largely in Kenya.

In its early
days, the company’s first mobile phones for the ordinary citizens were the “Simu
ya Jamii” which allowed Kenyans to communicate a bit more easily than had been
the norm.

In addition, the network allowed the operators to earn from these mobile payphones.

The company’s
presence across the country is notable with more than 4,000 towers under its
portfolio. This connectivity has allowed the company to ‘monopolise’ the market
since its footprint is unmatched.

To build on this success and stay ahead, the company increasing its 4G coverage now available in more than 30 counties in Kenya. It is also working on a second-generation M-Pesa network allowing the processing of over 21,000 M-Pesa transactions every minute and two mobile-based loans every second.

Safaricom’s Humble Beginnings

Under Joseph,
the company became one of the country’s biggest successes.

The apartment
block that hosted Safaricom in its infancy is glamourous and it does not offer
easy access to every Tom, Dick and Harry.

The Norfolk
Towers is nestled in the Central Business District (CBD) and boasts of 70 fully
furnished apartments for leisure and business travellers.

It hosts the who-is-who in Kenya especially those who have lived abroad for a long time. For companies, it is a different ballgame altogether.

A boardroom at Norfolk Towers. It is in this establishment that Safaricom cut its teeth to become one of the biggest companies in Kenya. [Photo/ Norfolk Towers ]

With easy
access to the CBD, the towers’ location could have made it ideal for the
Safaricom dream team to pitch tent here.

The information available shows that Norfolk Towers offers 24 hours reception service, electronic safes and airport transfers which is ideal for any business.

In addition, the establishment has 24-hour guard services in a secure environment with a perimeter wall with an electric wire.

For Safaricom,
when the company grew wings, the government offered 25% of its shares to the
public through the Nairobi Securities Exchange In 2008. It was a success!

As of December 2017, the telco had over 4,500 employees most of whom, at 75%, were based at the company’s headquarters in Nairobi.

The remaining 25%, were domiciled in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Eldoret. Safaricom’s nationwide dealerships ensure that customers across the country can access its products and services conveniently.

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