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Safaricom ups its game

NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 25 – Safaricom will continuously upgrade its service platforms as part of its five-year growth strategy of keeping up with technological advances to offer customers better services.

Speaking to Capital Business, Safaricom Head of Value Added Services Ken Okwero said that with a growing customer base, the operator was looking for ways of improving customer experience while ensuring there was limited down time in services.

He said the telecommunications industry, which relies heavily on technology advancements, needed to keep pace with industry changes.

"In the business we are in, we always change platforms.  So as the technology changes we get new efficiencies and sometimes cost reductions… so we do based on the strategy we are employing," Mr Okwero said.

Last year, Safaricom upgraded its M-PESA platform which put it on a new platform with very high capacity to keep in pace with the service\’s unprecedented take-up.

Since then, the money transfer service has been able to increase its upper sending limit to Sh140,000. It has also incorporated a host of new services search as e-ticketing and VISA card top ups.

Safaricom is scheduled to carry out an upgrade on its billing system from Saturday 8pm to Sunday 10am that will offer its customers more innovative services and alternative avenues of crediting their lines.

"Given the demand we will always be changing and/or upgrading platforms in line with our five year growth strategy," Mr Okwero said.

He said the new billing system, being provided by Huawei, would ensure that its customers are credited correctly when they top up and that tallies with the operator\’s records.

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The exercise is also expected to increase number of ways customers are able to top up.

The system will allow integration of PrePay and PostPay offerings where they are billed the same way.

During the 14-hour upgrading period, customers will not be able access calls and SMSs from other networks, but will be able to make calls to other networks.

All top-up methods including scratch cards, M-PESA, and ATM-based top ups will not be available during the period. Pre paid subscribers will also not enjoy roaming and data services as well as top up via Okoa Jahazi.

Also affected will be MMS and Premium Rated SMS services such as 411.

Mr Owero however said the disruptions would be intermittent with some services scheduled to come back online before time.

"We have prioritised and some services will be available for a longer period," he said.

Safaricom says it has planned the upgrade during a traditional off-peak period and doesn\’t expect much disruption.

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