PRESS STATEMENT BY SAFARICOM ON MOBILE NUMBER PORTABILITY

It has been about one month since the Kenyan mobile telephony market started implementing Mobile Number Portability (MNP) and as we embark on the second month of implementing this important process, we as telecom industry leaders wish to make a number of pertinent observations.

We wish to thank industry regulator Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) for its patience and professionalism in handling the implementation of MNP thus far. Even where there have been teething problems, as was widely expected, the CCK has shown leadership through its consultative approach to seeking solutions. A good example of this is the regular troubleshooting meetings held between the CCK, industry players and Porting Access who are the administrators of the process. In addition and following publicized complaints about the technical hitches affecting the uptake of MNP, the CCK initiated an audit process between Safaricom, Bharti-Airtel and Porting Access to establish the cause of SMS failures to the Porting Access data base. We appeal to the CCK to resist all attempts by some operators to derail the on-going audit process by engaging in media side-shows and to complete this crucial exercise and to make its findings public.

We remind the public that MNP was implemented in Kenya after a single week of technical testing. This is against a global benchmark of at least 6 to 8 weeks of testing time necessary to guarantee the robustness of all inter-linking systems and dependencies. Naturally, the numerous teething problems we are seeing now were to be expected. As late as this morning, we have received communication from Porting Access BV that they were having technical challenges based on what they cite to be unstable connectivity from their end, which challenges are affecting the ability of ALL operators in the Kenyan space to successfully implement some of the day to day actions related to the MNP process.

We are disturbed by a certain emerging trend in the implementation of MNP in Kenya so far, which we feel constrained to bring to the public attention. While it was always understood that the successful implementation of MNP greatly hinges upon the goodwill and mutual co-operation of all operators, the regulator and Porting Access, it is emerging that the actual experience is quite different. Safaricom is inclined to believe, based on available evidence, that Porting Access, which acts as the custodian of the porting database, has abdicated its role as a neutral clearing house for the MNP process in Kenya by actively batting from the corner of a single operator: Bharti-Airtel completely against the letter and spirit of the multi-lateral contract signed between the operators. We strongly object to the impression created, by Bharti-Airtel and indeed by some commission-hunters, that the single measure of the success or otherwise of MNP in Kenya, is to show that many subscribers port from other operators to Bharti-Airtel. Anecdotal evidence, which we have gathered and shared with CCK, points to an active collaboration between Bharti-Airtel and Porting Access on the timing and intensity of their attacks against Safaricom. The content and tonality of their messaging since this process began shares more than coincidental similarity. As recently as last week, we are privy to information that on Thursday 28th April both entities used a single venue for separate press conferences within minutes of each other while only one of the parties paid in full for the venue.

Safaricom takes great exception to the content of the message which has consistently been published by Porting Access and a certain Mr. Patrick Musimba, who has been speaking on its behalf. Mr. Musimba has taken to making a slew of unsubstantiated allegations against Safaricom and its officials regarding the implementation of MNP, and in the process upending and circumventing the audit process that was agreed to on 26th April 2011 by CCK, Safaricom, Bharti-Airtel and Porting Access.

Contrary to the impression that Porting Access are trying to create Safaricom is a Kenyan company, supporting a huge local stakeholder base and social economic ecosystem that includes over 740,000 individual Kenyan shareholders and the Government of Kenya (by extension all Kenyans), it employs over 3,000 direct employees, thousands of dealers and M-PESA agents. We shall do all in our power to protect their interests and the overall reputation of Safaricom which has been painstakingly built over the years. Consequently, Safaricom has today instructed its lawyers to institute legal proceedings against Porting Access and the person of Mr. Musimba for what we believe are acts of defamation and the tort of economic sabotage against Safaricom Limited, this legal action will be vigorously pursued to its logical end. We have also appealed to the CCK to urgently review the role of Porting XS BV of Netherlands and specifically its local partner Porting Access in the administration of MNP as we believe they have lost the moral and legal legitimacy to position themselves as an honest and impartial broker of the porting process.

Signed:

NZIOKA WAITA
Director-Corporate Affairs
SAFARICOM LIMITED

It has been about one month since the Kenyan mobile telephony market started implementing Mobile Number Portability (MNP) and as we embark on the second month of implementing this important process, we as telecom industry leaders wish to make a number of pertinent observations.

We wish to thank industry regulator Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) for its patience and professionalism in handling the implementation of MNP thus far. Even where there have been teething problems, as was widely expected, the CCK has shown leadership through its consultative approach to seeking solutions. A good example of this is the regular troubleshooting meetings held between the CCK, industry players and Porting Access who are the administrators of the process. In addition and following publicized complaints about the technical hitches affecting the uptake of MNP, the CCK initiated an audit process between Safaricom, Bharti-Airtel and Porting Access to establish the cause of SMS failures to the Porting Access data base. We appeal to the CCK to resist all attempts by some operators to derail the on-going audit process by engaging in media side-shows and to complete this crucial exercise and to make its findings public.

We remind the public that MNP was implemented in Kenya after a single week of technical testing. This is against a global benchmark of at least 6 to 8 weeks of testing time necessary to guarantee the robustness of all inter-linking systems and dependencies. Naturally, the numerous teething problems we are seeing now were to be expected. As late as this morning, we have received communication from Porting Access BV that they were having technical challenges based on what they cite to be unstable connectivity from their end, which challenges are affecting the ability of ALL operators in the Kenyan space to successfully implement some of the day to day actions related to the MNP process.

We are disturbed by a certain emerging trend in the implementation of MNP in Kenya so far, which we feel constrained to bring to the public attention. While it was always understood that the successful implementation of MNP greatly hinges upon the goodwill and mutual co-operation of all operators, the regulator and Porting Access, it is emerging that the actual experience is quite different. Safaricom is inclined to believe, based on available evidence, that Porting Access, which acts as the custodian of the porting database, has abdicated its role as a neutral clearing house for the MNP process in Kenya by actively batting from the corner of a single operator: Bharti-Airtel completely against the letter and spirit of the multi-lateral contract signed between the operators. We strongly object to the impression created, by Bharti-Airtel and indeed by some commission-hunters, that the single measure of the success or otherwise of MNP in Kenya, is to show that many subscribers port from other operators to Bharti-Airtel. Anecdotal evidence, which we have gathered and shared with CCK, points to an active collaboration between Bharti-Airtel and Porting Access on the timing and intensity of their attacks against Safaricom. The content and tonality of their messaging since this process began shares more than coincidental similarity. As recently as last week, we are privy to information that on Thursday 28th April both entities used a single venue for separate press conferences within minutes of each other while only one of the parties paid in full for the venue.

Safaricom takes great exception to the content of the message which has consistently been published by Porting Access and a certain Mr. Patrick Musimba, who has been speaking on its behalf. Mr. Musimba has taken to making a slew of unsubstantiated allegations against Safaricom and its officials regarding the implementation of MNP, and in the process upending and circumventing the audit process that was agreed to on 26th April 2011 by CCK, Safaricom, Bharti-Airtel and Porting Access.

Contrary to the impression that Porting Access are trying to create Safaricom is a Kenyan company, supporting a huge local stakeholder base and social economic ecosystem that includes over 740,000 individual Kenyan shareholders and the Government of Kenya (by extension all Kenyans), it employs over 3,000 direct employees, thousands of dealers and M-PESA agents. We shall do all in our power to protect their interests and the overall reputation of Safaricom which has been painstakingly built over the years. Consequently, Safaricom has today instructed its lawyers to institute legal proceedings against Porting Access and the person of Mr. Musimba for what we believe are acts of defamation and the tort of economic sabotage against Safaricom Limited, this legal action will be vigorously pursued to its logical end. We have also appealed to the CCK to urgently review the role of Porting XS BV of Netherlands and specifically its local partner Porting Access in the administration of MNP as we believe they have lost the moral and legal legitimacy to position themselves as an honest and impartial broker of the porting process.

Signed:

NZIOKA WAITA
Director-Corporate Affairs
SAFARICOM LIMITED

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