Safaricom Vs Equity Bank: May the best telco win, says Uhuru Kenyatta at the 6th East African Business Summit in Kigali


President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday said he declined to be drawn into the battle between Safaricom and Equity Bank over use of thin SIM card, instead urged those lobbying him to allow competition to drive the market. Reports Nation Media

Addressing business leaders during the 6th East African Business Summit in Kigali, Mr Kenyatta said there is a greater need to allow rivalry in order to deepen mobile money transfer saying this will increase benefits to users.

Cheaper and better products

“Some people came to me to say that licensing this or that will have consequences but I told them the competition between the firms including that of my friend Bob Collymore (Safaricom chief executive officer) is good for the market. Let them (Equity and Safaricom) fight out. All we want is cheaper and better products for people,” Mr Kenyatta said.

Safaricom, the dominant player in the country’s mobile money market, opposed introduction of the thin SIM on grounds that its use could expose M-Pesa customers to possible fraud.

Parliament’s energy committee also opposed use of the technology until proper and independent audit is undertaken.

However, Communications Authority of Kenya licensed Equity to roll out the card as it enlists services of a reputable international firm to carry out independent tests on the claims for one year.

“Yes we can make some mistakes but we will learn and use technology to drive our development agenda,” Mr Kenyatta.

He spoke in reference to concerns raised by Safaricom that the thin-SIM technology, which is embedded between the phone and the original SIM card, has capacity to intercept and relay data to third parties.

Equity and industry regulator says this is unfounded.

The bank is piloting the normal Equitel SIM card in preparation of the roll out of the thin variety.

On the planned digital migration, President Kenyatta asked media owners to accept and participate in it.