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ITWeb Africa

Saturday, Jan 25th

Safaricom to invest Kshs 38 billion into network development

Safaricom to invest Kshs 38 billion into NarrowBand IoT

Safaricom is looking to launch a NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) platform amid ongoing LTE expansion in the country. According to the company, the IoT platform will open up many opportunities for companies and startups to launch innovative products.

According to the GSMA, NB-IoT is a standards-based Low Power Wide Area technology developed to enable a wide range of new IoT devices and services.

NB-IoT is designed to improve power consumption of user devices, system capacity and spectrum efficiency, especially in deep coverage.

Speaking to ITWeb Africa on the sidelines of the recently concluded East Africa Com, Thibaud Rerolle, the Chief Technology Officer at Safaricom said that the company's investments in the coming years of Kshs 38 billion will open up the broadband market which is a driver behind IoT initiatives.

According to him, the CAPEX investment will go into LTE expansion and Fiibre to the Home (FTTH).

"I think IoT exemplifies nicely our vision to transform lives through technology and partnership where we can transform the lives of millions," Rerolle said. "With the advent of NarrowBand IoT in our 4G network, this will give the capability to offer IoT use cases to the public."

For example M-Kopa is has an IoT aspect to it. It uses GPRS data to track users and to manage the solar devices. M-Kopa offers users to pay daily for solar use through the company's solar kit. The company has been able to reach out to over 500,000 users across the East African market.

The development for IoT platforms will also open up space for on-demand services, which can be integrated with Safaricom products to offer wholesome experience according to Rerolle.

"The universal trend that we see on the on demand economy will of course be experienced here in Kenya. We have mentioned, M-Kopa, in fact it is also an on-demand service. You can decide to pay for your electricity or not," he said.

"Through digital economy we are enabling new ways of consuming services via on-demand is something that it is irreversible. This will be a reality in Africa as it is in the rest of the world," he added.

New API exchange coming

Developers have complained about the quality of Safaricom API. Rerolle admitted that they have received feedback that their API is not working as hoped by many partners and he alluded to the company unveiling new API functionalities in the near future.

"Over the years Safaricom has offered a lot of API through MPesa, SMS and USSD. But the way to on board and consume these APIs have not been the best," said Rerolle. "We have taken the decision to take the feedback very seriously and to move on to the API exchange platform. In the weeks to come, we will see a profound transformation in how we can actually on board developers, entrepreneurs and even existing partners."

"In the coming future we are busy preparing for an API exchange platform that will enable developers and entrepreneurs to be able to consume functionalities of services like M-Pesa. With a friendlier way to access our services this will unlock the potential of IoT in this market," he said. "The big chunk of demand will be on M-Pesa that is where we will put our initial focus in the coming weeks."

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