As the spread of the Coronavirus continues, more and more measures are being taken to minimize the spread of the virus. Top on the list are the limitations in movement as well as contact.
As we have noted over the last few days and weeks in our reporting, this has had an impact in the kind os services that Kenyans access from service providers like Safaricom.
Here is a list of some of the changes that have since been made by Safaricom as well as in conjunction with its own partners to help Kenyans during these difficult times that anyone reading this can take advantage of:
1. COVID-19 helpline
A toll-free line, 719, has been set up by the National Emergency Response Committee on Coronavirus with Safaricom’s assistance “to support Kenyans in understanding how to prevent and manage suspected cases”. As per official communication from the government that is running on all local media channels, Kenyans can call 719 to get assistance on all COVID-19-related cases.
“We have also interconnected other networks to ensure that their subscribers can access the Call Centre,” Safaricom notes in a statement to newsrooms sent last week.
719 is also accessible as a message service shortcode (*719#) and, in this regard, about 900,000 Kenyans are accessing it daily with a peak of 2.1 million accessing it on Thursday, March 19th, making it by far the most popular access means when compared to calls to the Call Centre which averaged between 67,000 and 70,000 for the managed and self-service lines respectively.
2. Safaricom Home Fibre
Safaricom has doubled bandwidth offered to all subscribers of its Fibre to the Home product, Safaricom Home Fibre, for a period of 90 days in order to encourage working from home.
Users can take advantage of the doubled bandwidth to do even more than work now that entire families, where each member has their own needs and priorities, may be stuck at home. See how here.
With schools closing early – even before the end of first term exams could be administered – students are at home indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of wasting away, they could continue with their studies, albeit in a manner they may not be used to, by use of the devices accessible to them, especially mobile phones.
Safaricom has partnered with Eneza Education, which runs the award-winning Shupavu 291 SMS-based remote learning platform, to provide students from grade 4 to form 4 with access to learning and revision content on the platform free of charge for a period of 60 days. This waives the Kshs 3 daily subscription fee thus making it more accessible to students across the country since all that one needs to access it is a mobile phone of whichever sort and no internet connectivity is necessary.
Safaricom has also zero-rated access to several e-learning platforms for those with access to the internet. mwalimoo.com, run by Eneza Education, Viusasa E-learning run by Viusasa and Longhorn Publisher’s e-learning platform are all accessible through the Safaricom network without the need for a data subscription of any sort up to a consumption limit of 250 megabytes daily for a 2-month period.
Safaricom’s mobile money platform – and others like it – has become the go-to since the first case of the Coronavirus was reported in the country and is recommended as a way of minimizing the kind of contact that paper money and other means of payment, like cards.
As a result,
- All person-to-person transactions below Kshs 1,000 are not attracting any transaction fees for 90 days (starting March 17th).
- All charges for payments made to all health facilities (hospitals and dispensaries) across the country have been zero-rated.
- Thanks to a lift of the limits imposed by the Central Bank of Kenya, Kenyans can now transact double the amounts of money that they could before (up to Kshs 150,000 per transaction and up to Kshs 300,000 daily) and hold double the amount of money that they could before in their wallets (Kshs 300,000).
- M-Pesa to bank transactions (and vice-versa) are not attracting any transaction fees – for a 90-day period.
- Some matatus have gone cashless thanks to a partnership between Safaricom and some public service vehicle (PSV) operators. “The service has already been deployed to more than 300 City Star Shuttle vehicles in Nairobi and will be rolled out to additional players in the coming days, helping them further comply with the Government’s recommendations to combat the spread of Coronavirus,” a press statement from Safaricom sent on March 23rd reads in part.
5. Bonga Points
If you are sitting at home feeling sorry for yourself and fellow countrymen and, maybe, even feeling a little helpless in the face of all that is going on, may be you shouldn’t. You can do something with all the Bonga Points you have accumulated.
An initiative announced today by Safaricom, dubbed ‘Bonga for Good’ allows subscribers to donate their Bonga Points as a sign of showing goodwill.
Furthermore, they can also use their Bonga Points to pay for items at outlets like supermarkets across the country.
“For the next 30 days, customers will redeem 1 Bonga Point for KES 30 cents, a 50% increase from the previous KES 20 cents per point, at over 140,000 Lipa na M-PESA merchants countrywide. Merchants accepting Lipa Na Bonga will receive a cash equivalent of the points redeemed, making it a normal business transaction,” a statement from the company reads.