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Thursday, April 30, 2015


Equitel, the mobile money product from Equity Bank's mobile network, has surpassed 500,000 subscribers, insiders say.

The product, featuring some of the most game changing features of mobile finance including sending money to different mobile platforms and bank accounts at minimal cost, is yet to receive substantial marketing as Equity Group deals with litigation linked to rival Safaricom.

Some of these features are yet to be activated with the App promising to activate them with the next release.

These include requesting for a loan, sending money to another bank, sending money to other mobile money services like Airtel Money and so on.

Equity Group is still fighting to be allowed to use thin SIM overlay technology to enable it roll out Equitel to the masses many of whom do not have dual SIM phones.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Listed investment company, Centum, is imminently expected to get the nod from the Capital Markets Authority to raise Sh6billion through a corporate bond, sources say.

The investment house which is currently involved in multiple mega projects is in need of cash to jump start some while funding the ongoing ones.

In Ol Karia it is looking to put up a 35Megawatt power plant initially which could cost it in the region of US$35-40million (KES 3.3billion) at the Akira geothermal project.

It has the $2bn 981MW Lamu Coal power plant.

It is developing the massive 62,000 square foot Two Rivers Mall project in what is seen as Nairobi's diplomatic blue zone in the Runda, Muthaiga, Gigiri and Nyari catchment area as well as nearby Ruaka and  Kiuna.

It is not clear if it is a straight corporate bond or a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) which allows investors to buy shareholding into a project like Two Rivers but Centum will certainly be counting on the success of Housing Finance's oversubscribed rights issue earlier this year.

Dyer and Blair will be the Lead Sponsoring Brokers.

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Listed-Telco Safaricom on Monday morning allegedly called in NTSA drunk-driving officers to test its staff who were reporting to work.

In the incredible incident, which caught staff by surprise, NTSA officers apparently would wait just past the entrance to Safaricom Headquarters as staff drove in before pouncing on the unsuspecting drivers and subjecting them to the alcoblow test.

The company is apparently concerned with the drinking amongst staff and reportedly, the number of staff who report to work Monday morning either still drunk or nursing hangovers.

Sources whose accounts could not be immediately confirmed said quite a number of staff did not pass the alcohol level test and were led away.

The sources further indicated that many among those netted included senior personnel and middle level managers.

There are however those staff members who refused to take the breathalyzer.

The company employs over 3000 staff.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015


Safaricom TV decoders are finally in the country with triple play capability.

The boxes which will retail for Sh3,499 run on Android software will be equipped for high-speed internet, high-definition TV, Video on Demand and Gaming.

After rolling out its fiber cable extensively across major towns in Kenya, Safaricom looks set to take on Zuku's similar offering of triple play services: TV, Internet, telephony.

Given that it intends to have its LTE/4G service in 15 towns by end of June, the listed Telco likely expects to roll out this service in these towns.

The business model has not been revealed but management has in the past spoken of on demand services where viewers stream and pay for what they want to watch.

Equally, it is not clear if viewers will pay for the programs or for the internet they use to download their movies.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Pay TV Startimes, earlier this week went off air in some cases for a day and a half on what company representatives said was occasioned by satellite problems.

The issue was most amplified in South Africa where subscribers said they couldn't reach the company's customer service by phone or email.

Among the countries that were affected include SA, Malawi, Kenya and Nigeria.

Startimes spokesperson in SA Eddie Mbalo said a technical glitch connecting a satellite uplink station in Slovenia caused the problem.

"The distance between the head office in Johannesburg and the location of the fault meant it took some tiome for the problem to be resolved," Mbalo told Techcentral.

Startimes Kenya PRO Alex Mwaura when contacted said the only issues he was aware of involved wrong installation of TV aerials.

Startimes has been having problems in the South African market where it recently lost a battle to carry hardcore porn channels.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Experts are offering interesting insights into the recent fee rise for DStv monthly packages.

Despite renewing their English Premier League TV rights for a record US$7.68billion (or a 70 per cent increase), Sky and BT Sport will not show all the matches live.

Supersport will.

According to experts, Multichoice is equally expected to pay more than it has been paying for the right to broadcast these football games particularly given it shows more live matches during the week (All 10) on either Tuesday or Wednesday which even Sky does not.
The contention is that Supersport, the sports broadcasting arm of the group, (MNET is the entertainment arm), more than creates value for the monthly charges.

While the hike in TV rights was massive, 70 per cent, and even ticket prices in UK stadia, Multichoice reckons the increase in subscription fees from April 1, is marginal at best.

In the US for instance, come May 2, the fight dubbed the biggest boxing fight of the century, Floyd “Money” Mayweather vs Manny “Pacman” Pacquaio, will be shown on Pay-Per-View on HBO and Showtime channels.

For this privilege, Americans and others around the world will pay $89.95 (Sh8400). Supersport viewers after paying the monthly $81 will see this fight for free.

This is in addition to the La Liga games, NBA playoffs, Olympics, IAAF Championships, the Diamond League, Formula 1 and all the other live sports that Supersport will carry.

Writing in MyBroadband, Gareth Vorster says: “I would argue that it is worth every cent for one single reason: Supersport, which arguably offers the most extensive coverage of live global sport anywhere in the world.”

Indeed, in addition to offering the popular Indian Cricket Premier League, it also carries live matches of many African soccer leagues including Kenya, Nigeria, Angola, Zambia, South Africa and so on.

Amidst all this, the US dollar is resurgent against most currencies on the continent if not the world. The Kenya Shilling is trading at Sh93 to the dollar up from about Sh88 at this time last year.

Writing in the Nigerian Vanguard, Akinyemi Falade, says a sliding Naira means content becomes more expensive to purchase.

“I have wondered how MultiChoice should have responded to naira’s increasingly negative performance against the US dollar, the currency with which it buys content, including the Nigerian movies we love to watch. Yes, Nigerian movies. MultiChoice’s content purchase process is centrally controlled from its South African headquarters,” Falade writes.

“This ensures that content, including that produced in Nigeria, is paid for in dollars.

Given that it will require naira in greater amounts than it used to, the money has to come from somewhere: subscribers.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Safaricom's MPESA G2 or the second generation of mobile money service MPESA will be showcased to media tomorrow the company has indicated.

The new version which has been a long time coming is expected to host the wildly successful Mpesa on locally hosted servers.

The current MPESA platform, G1, has been sitting in Rackspace servers in Germany and the UK.

The new MPESA platform is expected to be faster and to experience fewer outages. It will be able to process 600 transactions per second compared to 300 transactions per second currently.

It should also offer a few more advantages like when reversing a transaction, the customer will not be charged the amount that had been deducted such as sending charges and will receive their money intact.

It is also expected to have a better graphical user interface with the possibility of making use of logos.

MPESA is the most the successful money product in the world since its introduction in 2007.

With 19 million registered users, 12.7m of whom are active, M-PESA has evolved from a mere SMS money transfer tool to perhaps the world’s leading and first significant mobile money product.
The numbers are impressive.
Over six million transactions are carried out over the service daily, more than Western Union does globally, and it has an 80,000 strong agent network - more than any bank in Kenya can ever dream of.