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Safaricom seeks to remain relevant amidst competitor, regulatory pressures

Safaricom seeks to remain relevant amidst competitor, regulatory pressures.

Competitor and regulatory pressures over the course of the year have prompted Safaricom to redefine and innovate its mobile offering, with next year to pose fresh challenges, says chief executive officer (CEO) Bob Collymore.

According to Collymore, the past 12 months have proved to be "fast-paced", with a number of pressures felt by the Kenyan market-dominant operator, as a result of which Safaricom has had to focus on ensuring its products remain relevant to consumers.

"This has been a fast-paced year characterised by increasing competitor and regulatory pressures," Collymore said.

"We have responded to this by redefining the mobile experience for our customers and re-emphasising our focus to deliver relevant products to an increasingly diverse customer base."

A number of the year's challenges have been technical, Collymore said, with Safaricom working to build the "most technologically advanced network in the region".

In April, the servers of Safaricom's famed M-PESA service were moved from Europe to Kenya, as part of upgrading of the service to enable a higher transaction volume, and flexibility to network demands; while the operator is also carrying out a US$170 million government tender granted last year, for the installation of a high-tech surveillance and communications network to be used by the National Police Service.

"We continued to invest heavily in building the foundations of the most technologically advanced network in the region; even as we progressed cross-industry partnerships to increase the portfolio of services that are enabling a variety of sectors to harness the power of mobile to improve efficiencies and lower costs," Collymore said.

"Internally we successfully managed Africa's largest and most intricate IT migration, moving the M-PESA servers from Germany to Kenya. We are also in the final stages of delivering a first-of-its-kind surveillance, communication and control solution to the National Police Service," he said.

Collymore concedes challenges will continue next year, with competition set to grow. He says the operator needs to innovate to remain relevant to the young consumer market, and improve data offerings available to the market.

"Next year, we will be keen to take advantage of new opportunities in the market including delivering data to a growing number of subscribers and harnessing a more youthful subscriber base to create custom-fit solutions for the market," Collymore said.

"We also expect fresh challenges in the form of new competitors which will make for another vibrant year in Kenya's telecoms sector."

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