Category Archives: M-Pesa

Huawei Mate 10 Kenya Launch

Huawei has launched its Mate 10, a premium phone in Kenya in conjunction with e-commerce platform Jumia. The company which now sells 140 million phones a year, and aims to power past Samsung and Apple in the global phone sales race, has been in Kenya for 19 years powering base-stations, communications, surveillance, and fibre networks, devices and systems including M-Pesa and will next do intelligent traffic lights starting in Nairobi.

Huwaei’s traditions of innovation, research, engineering, patents and new technology are all seen in the Huawei Mate 10 which is compact than its Mate 9 predecessor, but with the same screen size. The Huawei Mate 10 runs on Android 8.0 and is powered by the Kirin 970, a powerful Huawei-made chipset which enables the artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities for the phone to study the phone user’s habits, and predicts future usage and allocates phone resources to enhance the user experience.

The AI also allows real-time translation on the phone, by voice or of documents, by taking a picture (e.g. of a page of Chinese text) of 50 languages (and counting). This happens on the phone, not in the cloud, and this provides better privacy & security for the user, minimizes data usage and is faster. Huawei has a partnership with camera maker Leica that has seen them enhance photography capabilities; e.g. the Mate 10 camera recognizes millions of images of people, scenes and objects like food being photographed and optimizes the settings to produce better pictures from the combination of two 20X and 12X cameras.

For practical use in many markets, the Mate 10 is a dual SIM phone capable of holding two 4G SIM cards, and the new powerful battery will easily last two days with normal use despite the large screen and fast processing speeds – and a quick charge of the phone for just 20 minutes should be enough to get a full day of use. The Mate 10 has a curved back for easy grip and is spill and dust resistant.

The Mate 10 can be plugged into a screen to work like a desktop for the user to make edits and show items like demos and presentations right from the phone. The split-screen allows true multitasking of functions and the user can still take calls or check social media while working on other projects.

The Mate 10 phone is now available exclusively on Jumia for Kshs 79,999  (~$775) and for the Black Friday sale period, Jumia is offering a free power bank and a Kshs 2,000 shopper voucher. In the coming weeks, there will be more variants of the Mate 10 offered on Jumia, at Safaricom shops and the open market including the Mate 10 Lite phone that will retail for about $500.

Nairobi Supermarket Shoppers and Economics Trends

Chris (@blackorwa) has a blog on Kenya supermarket buyers, deciphering consumer patterns and habits of Nairobi shoppers by analyzing and decoding their discarded supermarket receipts.  This is an interesting experiment, in which they actually paid street kids to dig and dive for recipes in the garbage. They based their search for trends on a previous study at Walmart to draw out patterns of shoppers.

some interesting findings

  • Supermarkets not within malls have 61%  of their customers buying less than 3 items and spending Kshs 200 (~$2) on average.
  • M-PESA is yet to dominate retail – it was used for just  3.6% of supermarket transactions, with cards (credit/debit) used for 1.8% of transactions 0  as cash is still king at supermarkets. Safari com hopes to change that with 1tap which makes it faster to make purchases.
  • On a typical weekday, a small well-positioned supermarket does 2,350 transactions with a value of about Kshs 360,000. This translates to about Kshs 10.8 million in revenue a month.
  • Margins are thin, and supermarket profit are determined by controlling labour expenses.
  • Cooked food, mineral water, and bakery drive a lot of sales – they have the highest sales volume and greatest profit margins.

Take  a look at it the study

Safaricom Governance Changes

Appearing in today’s newspaper was a notice for the Safaricom shareholders annual general meeting (AGM) that will take place on September 1. In addition to the usual shareholder resolutions, there are additional matters that will be approved, mainly relating to governance by at Safaricom. This all follows the buyout of UK’s Vodafone stake in Safaricom, by South African Vodacom in an internal Vodafone group corporate realignment earlier this year that has now been completed.  A running theme seems to be entrench Kenyan citizens in the governance and influence at what is now Kenya’s most valuable company.

Some of the changes:

  • The company Chairman shall be a Kenyan (this is now going to be mandatory and is spelled out in the company’s articles of association)
  • Directors shall encourage retention of a “Kenyan character” in the senior management and executive committees of Safaricom.
  • The articles are also changed to spell out that that independent non-executive directors of Safaricom, shall all be Kenyan citizens.
  • The position of Deputy Chairman is eliminated.
  • Directors appointed by Vodafone shall be excluded from voting on agreements relating to M-Pesa.
  • Directors appointed by Vodafone are to vote in the interest of the company (Safaricom) if its growth and investment decision clash with those of Vodafone.
  • Directors shall appoint the Managing Director Previously as indicated in documents from the Safaricom IPO, Vodafone directors had veto power over the appointment over approval of business plans, annual budgets, the appointment of the Managing Director (Chief Executive Officer) and appointment of the Financial Director (Chief Financial Officer). Now, the Safaricom articles will change to read that “75% directors must approve these provisions” including a new one of “any material change to the company brand”. Shareholders at the AGM will also approve a name change of the company to “Safaricom PLC” in compliance with Kenya’s new companies law for listed companies to be “PLC”

M-Akiba Reloaded: More government bonds via phone

On Friday the Treasury Cabinet Secretary launched the second tranche of M-Akiba, the government bonds that can be bought and traded via mobile phone. 

The first tranche of M-Akiba, worth Kshs 150 million was launched in March 2017, and marked at 10%, maturing in April 2020. They had their highest trading day on May 12 when about Kshs 345,000 was traded; usually, about Kshs 100,000 per day ($1,000) of M-Akiba are traded by investors so far. At the time of launch, the indication was that another Kshs 4.85 billion was to be raised in June 2017.

The new M-Akiba infrastructure bond issue (MAB2/2017/3) is targeting Kshs 1 billion (~$9.7 million), with a green shoe option to raise another Kshs 3.85 billion. These are also three-year infrastructure bonds (dated 24 July), paying 10% per annum, with interest paid every six months, and the minimum investment is, again, Kshs 3,000 (~$29). Payments for the new bonds will be done on mobile money such as M-pesa (by dialing *889#) as well as through Pesalink – a new service from Kenya banks that allows their customers to make payments via phone and mobile money transfers of up to Kshs 1 million  (~$9,700) per day – which is seven times greater than what they can do with mobile money, under current banking rules (set to prevent money-laundering). The deadline for investors to apply for the M-Akiba bond is July 21, and the trading commission for will be 0.1% of allocations.

EDIT (July 23 Nation): MAB2/2017/3 has been extended to 8th September and the bond will start trading on 12th September. It has been reported that investors bought Kshs 128 million before the initial deadline, and the newspaper notice of the extension mentions that these invests will be paid for interest earned between July 24 and 11th September.

‘Akiba’ means ‘savings’ in Swahili.
$1 = Ksh 103

Vodacom buys Vodafone Stake at Safaricom

Early this morning a surprising news story first appeared at Bloomberg about Vodacom buying shares at Safaricom. Early interpretations of the story had the Kenya government selling their entire 35% of their most valuable investment to Vodacom.

But later, the official statement from Vodafone (and Safaricom) confirmed that Vodafone was the one selling 35% of their shareholding to Vodacom. It includes a statement by Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore that the deal “promotes the continued successful expansion of the company as well as the opportunity to drive M-PESA to other markets in the continent.”

  • Safaricom had announced another record earnings year year, last week.
  • Will there be a rebrand to Vodacom? Safari com may be constrained by operating in Kenya. Vodacom just had an IPO in Tanzania whose outcome is pending and M-Pesa has had tremendous strides in Tanzania.
  •  Former Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph resigned from the Vodafone a month ago to concentrate on his role as Kenya Airways Chairman.
  • Vodafone will remain with 5% of Safaricom – down from 39.93%.