Kenya’s Safaricom plans to enter into partnership with software companies as it seeks to design more in-house mobile phone applications.

The leading mobile operator says they will work jointly with the chosen tech firms and agree on how to market and operate the software products.

“The partners will co-create the software with Safaricom…the partners can then agree on a marketing and operations model,” said Safaricom in internal documents seen by the Business Daily.

The new plan is part of Safaricom’s broad strategy to diversify revenue streams as its voice business matures.

Safaricom’s M-Pesa, launched in Kenya more than a decade ago is one of the most popular modes of payment in Kenya. At the end September it had nearly 27 million active users in a population of 47 million.

M-Pesa, started by Safaricom in 2007, has grown from a basic mobile money transfer application into a fully-fledged financial service platform, offering loans and savings in partnership with local banks, plus merchant payment services.

Safaricom has also introduced Digifarm that offers farmers credit and insurance against weather damage as well as training programmes, and advice on soil testing to increase yields.

The benefit of Digifarm is that it bypasses middlemen, giving small-holder farmers direct access to low-cost seeds and fertiliser, credit providers, and bulk purchasers of their produce.

In 2018, Safaricom piloted a social messaging app that it said then would link to its mobile money platform. It is not clear what became of the project dubbed Bonga, translating to ‘chat’ in Kiswahili.

Kenya’s fast-growing technology sector, nicknamed “Silicon Savannah”, has attracted many entrepreneurs from places like the United States and United Kingdom supported by a pool of well-resourced software app developers in the country.

Safaricom is part-owned by South Africa’s Vodacom and Britain’s Vodafone.


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