Two petitioners have taken Safaricom to court over the charges it imposes on Okoa Jahazi airtime services, claiming that they are illegal. Mr. Ashford Koome and Eric Kithinji, claim that Safaricom is not licensed to carry out banking services, hence the interest it charges on the airtime advanced to the subscribers is illegal.However, Safaricom has disputed the claims arguing that the charges have been approved by the Communications Authority of Kenya and that they are not interest but a service charge.
“It is my understanding therefore that Safaricom does not charge interest on the airtime it advances to its prepaid subscribers as alleged by the petitioner. Safaricom simply charges a service fee for subscribers who exercise the option of using the Okoa Jahazi service,” says Safaricom in its response.
The petitioners’ further claim that there are no published terms and conditions available to the users thereby exposing consumers to indiscriminate tariff and other hidden conditions.
They further allege that the charges of 10 percent on the advanced airtime is very high and says it constitutes predatory practice against the lower segment of the subscribers, where they claim to belong. But Safaricom says it has publicised the terms and conditions in print, electronic, its website and online media.
The plaintiff originally filed the petition against Safaricom and the Ministry of ICT in early February 2017 to voice their concerns against Okoa Jahazi. Afterwards, another complaint was forwarded by Mutwiri Arimi & Company Advocates, which questioned the viability of the 10% charged on Okoa Jahazi as interest.
The company provides voice, data, financial services and enterprise solutions for a range of subscribers, small businesses, and government, using a variety of platforms.
Safaricom is currently the largest telecommunication company with over 28 million subscribers and provides over 200,000 touch points for its customers. Annual revenues are in excess of Kshs 150 Billion, providing over 80% of Kenya’s population with 4G and 3G coverage and providing 2G coverage to 95% of Kenyans. Safaricom has harnessed on the internet business with fibre infrastructure to build a dedicated enterprise business,