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Thursday, February 23, 2012


After what seems like ages, Airtel is finally going to unveil its 3G network in Kenya at the Crowne Plaza Hotel tomorrow.

Staff have been running up and down doing testing and checking reports in the run-up to the long-delayed event.

As we've mentioned before, Airtel has not been good at capitalizing on opportunities that come its way. Since Safaricom raised its tariffs, subscribers have flocked to Airtel but unfortunately, many have ended turning right back.

In recent times for example, new subscribers or returning ones have not been able to get their SIM swaps because of issues with their AUC (Authentification Centre) - basically, old number that have since left the network have not been removed filling up the system and leaving no space for new subscribers.

Gladly, this has been sorted out now, albeit in the short term.

That being said, Airtel launching a  3G system is a big, big step that need not be gainsaid.

Not only does it mean that handsets on their system will now access the net faster and hence make the whole experience cheaper, but also folks will be pretty excited about their 3G modems when they introduce them and the kind of deals they will come with.

Say what you will about Airtel, but the prices Kenyans pay for voice and SMS today are largely due to them.

If a similar shakeup is seen in data, it may well tip the market.

But despite that, Airtel seriously need to deal with a lot of issues if at all they are to have a viable business in this country.

For starters, they must modernize their systems to state of the art, robust, and high capacity network systems that are easy to manage and easily yield business intelligence data and visualizations that support business decision making.

It is not feasible that Airtel in 2012, is still using some of the systems that Kencell developed almost 10 years ago.

Some of these systems have reached end of life, others have so many add-ons and workarounds that they are barely recognizable to the people who designed them in the first place.

A company as big as Airtel should have a serious Enterprise Resource Platform (ERP), Customer Relations Management (CRM) and a serious BI (Business Intelligence) module and even a SMMP (Social Media Management Program) that can serve as an early warning system to a problem that subscribers are experiencing and alert management to deploy resources toward the problem.

Safaricom and Orange have already taken this path. Orange which decided to reduce suppliers for its voice, SMS and CDMA platforms and gave it to ZTE, plans to do the same for its other services.

Airtel on the other hand has too many suppliers, to many outsourced parties, and every time there is a problem, it becomes a matter of passing the buck from this supplier to that.

All in all, congratulations for launching 3G Airtel.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Mwalimu King'angi aka Churchill (Daniel Dambuki) can claim to be the King of Facebook in Kenya. While his official Daniel "Churchill" Ndambuki is second to NTV in terms of fans, he also has the Mwalimu King'angi Facebook page which also ranks in the top ten in the country. Combined then, he is just behind the full power of the Nation Media Group with its NTV, Easy FM and Daily Nation brands coming in the top 10.

Uhuru Kenyatta ranks first among politicians with Martha Karua running a close second. Also with over 100,000 fans in Maina Kageni who is said to make more than Sh400,000 a month from Facebook.

According to statistics from socialbakers, Facebook penetration in Kenya is 3.26%compared to the country's population and 32.67% in relation to number of Internet users. This means there is a lot of unexploited potential among existing internet users even as hordes of teens come online daily.

 The total number of FB users in Kenya is reaching 1305340 and grew by more than 132800 in the last 6 months.

In the last one week, Uhuru Kenyatta's page has been the fastest growing adding over 5000 fans followed by Martha Karua at about 3000.

Safaricom, Mwalimu Kingangi and KTN Kenya follow in third, fourth and fifth place.

Yesterday, Safaricom added the most fans to its site, 353, followed by Uhuru 350 and Martha 319.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Nokia global head Stephen Elop will be in the country next week in what will be a first. No CEO of the Finnish giant has been here before. This comes at a time when the handset vendor has downgraded its regional hub in Nairobi into a sales office moving other responsibilities to Jo'Burg.

It also comes at a time when at the top of the food chain, Samsung is increasingly asserting its dominance with the Galaxy line and rivals like Sony Ericsson and Research In Motion also seeking to increase their share of the pie. The iPhone 4S is also on sale through Orange although we are yet to see how they handle marketing for this latest iteration.

Nokia regional head Ken Oyolla who had announced his resignation before being made the global head of activations will no doubt welcome the opportunity to host Elop. Oyolla has been regional sales manager for Nokia before and together with Samsung's Amit Patel (formerly of Motorola) know the market trends as well as anyone in the business.

Elop used to be an executive with Microsoft and has steered Nokia toward Windows Mobile as it belatedly abandons Symbian.