Safaricom subscribers accessing services out of bundle to pay more starting July 7

Safaricom customers not subscribed to any bundle provided by the network operator will, from today onwards, pay more than they used to.

Calls on the Safaricom network will be billed at a rate of Kshs 4.87 during peak hours and Kshs 2.50 during off-peak periods. Text messages will be charged a fee of Kshs 1.20, up from the previous Kshs 1.00. Data will be billed at a rate of Kshs 4.87.

The changes are as a result of the passage and coming into effect of the Finance Act, 2021, which included amendments to the Excise Duty Act, 2015, raising the excise duty payable on such services from 15%, as implemented from 2018, to 20%.

Owing to the rise in excise tax on “telephone and internet data services” by 5%, telecommunications companies and other service providers have been getting in touch with their customers over the last few days informing them of revised pricing for the services they offer as a way of passing on the added tax burden to them.

Yesterday, Telkom Kenya informed its subscribers that it would be increasing call, SMS and data prices to between Kshs 2.78 and 4.30 for calls, Kshs 1.15 for data and Kshs 4.50 per MB of data.

As is the case with Telkom Kenya, those who are calling, sending SMS and browsing using their bundled resources are not affected by these changes. (We will be explaining why and discussing these developments further in a future episode of our podcast so be sure to tune in then!)

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According to Safaricom, these new rates will also apply when you are using your Storo bonus airtime as it is not a bundled product. The same will be the case when using Okoa Jahazi airtime. These rates will also kick in for any airtime bonuses one has now or gets in the future.

Users of other services like the entrepreneur-friendly Zidisha Plus are also subject to the new rates.

The changes apply across the board; so they affect all prepaid (including Blaze) and postpaid subscribers.

For instance, for postpaid users, when one is simply calling and/or texting without subscribing to any postpaid (or other) bundle, the final bill that comes at the end of the month will be based on the above new rates.

In short, “All accounts that give customers resources in terms of money as opposed to minutes will be billed at the new rates when the customer is consuming the resources.”

In a customer notice shared earlier today, Safaricom notes that it has also revised the rates of its home internet service, Home Fibre, and its business equivalent. The company raised Home Fibre rates by between Kshs 300 and Kshs 500 the last time the excise tax went up.

The changes also affect network operators like Safaricom (and virtual ones like Equity Bank subsidiary Equitel) in other ways. For instance, the telecommunication company’s mobile money ventures with partners like NCBA and KCB Bank in M-Shwari, Fuliza and KCB-M-Pesa have been affected as there is a 20% fee on commissions and fees earned by banks for credit advanced to customers on mobile platforms.

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