Category Archives: Celtel

NASA Post-Election Economic Boycott of Brookside, Bidco, Safaricom

Last week, Kenya’s opposition movement, the National Super Alliance (NASA), who boycotted the repeat presidential election held on October 26, announced an “economic liberation programme” and called on their followers to boycott the products of three companies Bidco, Brookside, and Safaricom.

What’s the link?

Brookside Dairies is associated with the family of President Uhuru Kenyatta. The company was started in 1993 and Brookside has grown to control about  44% of the processed milk market in the country, ahead of New KCC and Githunguri Dairies.

Brookside has acquired several dairy companies and still sells milk under their original brands including Tuzo, Molo Milk, Ilara and Delamere.  While the NASA statement mentions that when Jubilee took over milk farmers were getting Kshs 35 per litre while consumers paid Kshs 72 per litre and that today farmers still get Kshs 35 while consumers pay 120 per litre, the economics of milk prices is a complex one, not attributed to the processor alone. Brookside collects milk from over 160,000 farmers every day.

Safaricom: MPs from the NASA side have  accused Safaricom, arguably Kenya’s most successful company, and some of its employees who they publicly named, of enabling  incorrect election results to be transmitted during the August 8 elections, something which the company has denied and also expressed concern that their employees had been needlessly endangered as they did their jobs and the company merely fulfilled a contract to support the 2017 Kenya general election.

NASA MPs have gone ahead to publicly switch from using Safaricom to rival Airtel, even as Safaricom dealers warned of dire effects for their employees and communities.

Safaricom has 6 of its 45 shops in the Western/ Nyanza Region which is the bedrock of NASA support. Whether this is a turning point for Airtel in Kenya as a company which has been branded as Kencel, Celtel, and Zain and which has steadily lost ground and value to Safaricom over the years, remains to be seen.

But members of parliament from ODM (the main party in NASA)  have in the past voiced critical comments about some of their issues with Safaricom from even before the 2017 election –  especially during debate on the gambling and sport betting bills in the last parliament, earlier this year.

Here are some comments by Nicholas Gumbo, the then-Member of Parliament for Rarieda and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee in the National Assembly.

Then-Member of Parliament for Gem and Deputy Minority Leader, Jakoyo Midiwo threatened on more than one occasion to introduce legislation to break Safaricom.

Bidco: The edible oils company is probably the most vulnerable of the three brands and was likely targeted because its group chairman Vimal Shah, is the chairman of MKenya Daima an offshoot of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), of which he’s a past Chairman, and which has throughout the election season been championing for respect of the election outcomes, grievances to be addressed in the constitutional ways (through the courts), for politicians to be careful about their public utterances and for normal business life to resume. KEPSA recently released a statement that read:

This is why we have consistently called Kenyans’ attention to the disastrous economic consequences of the present uncertainty which affects all Kenyans. The Private Sector having reviewed the loss and has estimated it to be about 10 per cent of the GDP equivalent to Kshs 700 Billion

Earlier this year, Bidco announced plans to become a billion-dollar turnover (Kshs 103 billion) company by 2021 (their current turnover is Kshs 25 billion) by diversifying into the production of fruit juice, soft drinks, and cereal products.

edit May 1. 2018 Boycott lifted: 

edit March 21, 2023. Hon. Raila Odinga announced an immediate boycott of Safaricom PLC, the Kenya Commercial Bank Group and the Radio Africa Media (Star newspaper).

Gold Cards are 3rd Class

You can stop bragging or flashing your gold credit card now as you settle the bill at your favourite restaurant. Looking at this card comparison chart from Visa, it is now clear that having a gold card is getting lower in the hierarchy of cards to aim for after Infinite, Platinum and then Gold, that’s just above a Classic card . This was made clear when NIC launched platinum cards some months ago and the extensive benefits of the new cardVisa card range were listed..including some that were previously attached to gold.

Visa chart The big change is airport lounge access which Priority Pass attach to Platinum cards, but not to gold cards – and it seems gold cards no longer entitle owners to use airport lounges e.g. at Nairobi or Kigali, but ‏reader, @smandavia says gold is still good at Mombasa airport.

Still it could also be following a global trend where the best that airports have to offer are reserved for passengers flying on first or business class, and those with enough accumulated miles  – regardless of what credit card they have. Curiously, Airtel  Africa premier customers also get access to airport lounges with Priority Pass.


Zain in Kenya

Vuka Verdict:

Zain introduced the Vuka revolutionary flat rate call package of 8 shilling per ($0.10) minute to call all other networks in October 2008. After an initial surge in customers. What do the numbers bear out?

Rough dialing

– Zain gained a million customers 3.08 million (up from 2.1 million)
– Zain lost revenue $162 million (~13 billion) down from $194 million
– Zain lost big money: Net loss was $90 million in 2008 compared to a loss of $21 million in 2006. the ~Kshs. 7.2 billion is perhaps the largest corporate loss in Kenya for a single year

Zain outlook

– The 2009 numbers should be much better as marketing costs of Zain’s Vuka were quite heavy for the last quarter of 2008 and by which time customer numbers were still growing. But with just 5% of the entire Zain group customers, Kenya may be an expensive group to manage in what they consider to be a competitive market with low revenues [Average revenue per user/ARPU was $6 (down from $7)]. Zain claims 18% market share to Safaricom’s 77% and 5% for Orange
– Zain owned 80% of the Kenyan operation, up from 70% in 2007
– If Zain can state the population of Kenya is 38.5 million (up from 37.5 in 2007), is there need for an expensive Government census which will take place later this year?

Spotlight on foreign investors

after Morgan Stanley & Safaricom

Rift Valley Railways: This week as the patience of the governments of Kenya and Uganda reached new highs, local stakeholders finally got rid of the managing director. More stories are now coming out on the (lack of) financial strength of the backers of the railway. The East African newspaper has (consistently) had the best coverage of the railway management over the last two years.

About a year ago, the former MD gave a talk on the difficulties he faced in reviving the railway and the way forward for the 25 year program.

Tiomin is another ‘foreign investor’ who never had financing that was sufficient enough for them to launch their operations in Kwale, even after the government and the courts gave them go ahead

Zain is the new brand of the former Celtel Group that is expanding all over Africa. But according to their group financial results for the half year, Kenya is the only African country where they did not gain subscribers over the last year. At June ’08, Kenya had 1.9 million subscribers compared to 2.4 million in June 2007. Compare that to Uganda 1.8m (up 100%) and Tanzania 2.8m (up 48%). Half year revenue and loss was $79.4 million and $26.4m compared to %100m and a loss of $4.2 million at the same point in 2007 Safaricom is blamed for defending their market turf

Google have bought into Mobile Planet a leading local provider of value added mobile services (and also a Safaricom partner).

Kutwa Tuesday: Reverse Safaricom IPO and other such tales

Safaricom needs a reverse stock split to get rid of their unhappy shareholders.
– Anyone who has less than 10,000 shares by December should be paid off by the Government or Vodafone at the IPO price of 5 shillings or market price, whichever is lower at the end of the year. Investors will not sell their shares at a loss and the least they can do is recoup their money from this mess (excluding their loans)

Kenol tweak: 36.67 million shares change hands worth 3.3 billion shillings on Friday. Meanwhile kenol/kobil stations have the most expensive fuel in Nairobi. Diesel has hit 101 shilling per litre ($1.55), while petrol is at 108, that’s about 6 shillings more than my station of choice.

Cola tweak: After enduring a difficult first quarter, coca cola is having a bit of a tumble in the second quarter due to to EABL’s Alvaro – at least in urban areas where it has become the non-alcoholic drink of choice for many previous soda (and juice) sippers. Coke has unleashed another multi-million shilling giveaway promotion to win back customers

alvaro cases at Nakumatt

Celtel tweak – More celtel confusion; The ink is not dry on posters for their newest promotion and already the terms have changed (for the better) [for customers to get free calls will now cost 65/= ($1) a day down from 99/=].

August will be a significant month for the mobile sector as Celtel switches to the Zain brand, Safaricom release their first quarterly results after the IPO, and Econet should finaly/hopefuly roll out operations.

Media tweaks: All journalists and correspondents practicing in Kenya must be registered with the Media Council of Kenya – and to do so they must each pay Kshs. 2,000, while foreign journalists will have to pay 10,000 ($154) per year [those on short term assignment of up to 3 months pay 5,000]. Amounts due by 30/9. Television radio and newspaper organizations also have to pay a quarterly fee depending on the number of media outlets

Standard tweaks Two weeks after the launch of the new Standard, their strap line of the standard has changed;

new standard at launch

standard yesterday

Sunday Nation tweaks now has the best of best of Whispers – favorite columns of the late humorist Wahome Mutahi and some articles of the New York Times

From the blogs
Pointer for Access Kenya shareholders to read
– There are only 60 lions (adult) in the Mara – but that’s an improvement by 50% from year 2001
– How bad are things for those who took IPO loans for Safaricom? Ssembonge shows that small investors are hurting more than bigger borrowers.
– Cautionary tales on life insurance from Tujuane
– Peer pressure: tales of GDP growth of rates of 8% in Ghana and
21% in Angola
Link to a puff piece in memory of the former finance minister
-US Airways to remove all in-seat movies from their planes, while Emirates is targeting to remove all paper (in-flight magazines and publications) to save a ton of weight on the new A380 (to compensate for a ton of water for showers in first class (from


African Banker Awards. deadline for nominations if 31 July in the following categories: African Banker of the Year, African Bank of the Year, African Investment Bank, Best Development Bank in Africa, African Microfinance Bank, Best Issuing House, Most Innovative Bank, Deal of the Year, Socially Responsible Bank of the Year, Best Global Bank in Africa, Award for Gender Sensitivity

from the daily papers last week
Aircraft Leasing Services: captains, first officers for Embarer 135.
– HR director at Housing Finance. Apply through deloitte by 1/8
– MD of KCB Rwanda. Apply to by 8/8
KPMG Uganda: Internal Audit Services manager, Senior Internal Auditor, Internal auditor, forensic auditors. Apply to by 1/8
– Corporate affairs manager of Nation media group.
– Independent sales agents at Standard Chartered Bank. Apply to by 31/7

Others vacancies at Kencall, Kenya Airways, and Family Bank [Credit officer, Procurement Officer, Works Officer, Accountant, Accounts Assistant, Administrative Assistant, Assistant Manager, Audit Manager, Branch Accountant]

Beach plots too good to be true? Lots of land available in Mombasa for real estate investment from Datkit agents including 3 acres creek in new Nyali with 120m sea frontage, 1.3 acres over looking Nyali golf club, 5 acre lots in kikambala, 14 acre beach plot next to Neptune beach, 25 acre beach plot next to kaskazi hotel with 168m beach front, 1/3 acre residential plots in shanzu (2nd row from beach)