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Safaricom probing network hitches

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 10 – Mobile operator Safaricom has announced that it will conduct thorough investigations into its network outages that have seen a number of its services experience serious down time.

This follows days of complaints by the operator\’s customers over poor services.

Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore said the company had been experiencing technical problems since last week that have affected its calling, SMS and M-PESA services, adding the technical investigations would establish the root cause of the problem.

"There were serious outages and this is simply not acceptable because this is not what customers pay for. I need to carry out deep investigation as to why so many things went wrong," Mr Collymore said.

On Friday, the M-PESA service was down for close to three hours while over the weekend, Safaricom reported that its SMS services faced outage – affecting delivery by hours and days in some cases.

"Really, any outage is unacceptable and for it to last as long as it did is unforgivable," he said.

Mr Collymore said the problem could be linked to its recent billing system upgrade, but insisted the investigations would give a detailed report of the underlying problem.

"There is really no excuse for delivering this appalling standard of service, hence why I have launched these investigations to ensure we give you the best possible services," he assured customers.

Safaricom experienced a similar problem last year, but it was later established that it was due to cuts on its fibre optic network.

Mr Collymore was speaking while announcing the operator\’s partnership with Strathmore University and Vodafone to establish a training facility for the telecommunication industry in the country.

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The facility dubbed Safaricom Academy will train graduates interested in advancing careers in telecommunications and development of mobile software applications.

He said the institution would provide entrepreneurial talent with certified qualifications in line with its growth strategy while developing relevant user applications for its customers.

"Understandably, data is the next growth frontier and we are investing heavily in this sector. We see this as a key driver of the ICT revolution in the country," Mr Collymore said.

According to the Safaricom CEO, the high unemployment situation in the country coupled with the current availability of data capacity created a huge opportunity for developing and commercializing affordable innovative applications.

"This opportunity can only be effectively exploited through fostering and nurturing of ideas in a supportive environment which can produce applications attractive enough for subscriber consumption," he said.

Under the academic program, an incubation centre will be provided to enable entrepreneurs conduct research and development in a professional environment under guidance from established specialists.

Apart from enhancing academic competence through certified qualifications, students at the academy will benefit from mentorship and coaching skills through the world renowned eMobilis. 

This will expose them to the global market through the Safaricom AppStore where they can market their applications.

Purchasers of these applications can pay through the M-PESA money transfer service.

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