• Network Quality

Our network remains fundamental to our business. It is an essential part of our business because all of the services we provide to our customers are delivered through the network platform. It is also the medium through which we transform lives. The quality and availability of our network is a competitive advantage as well because it allows us to differentiate ourselves in a highly competitive market.

In response to the SDG strategy, we have aligned our efforts with five of the goals this year and committed to fostering a conducive work environment (SDG8) by putting safety first for all staff and our partners, as well as ensuring that all staff are treated equally and to promote and support Diversity and Inclusion (SDG10).

We have also committed to further entrench the use of energy-efficient technologies (SDG7) within our installations and our facilities that are environmentally friendly (SDG12) and to extend coverage of our services and offer an excellent network experience to society in general (SDG9).

BEST NETWORK FOR YOU

Independent Quality of Service (QoS) testing is one of the main indicators we use to monitor and manage the quality of our network. During the year, the Safaricom network was comprehensively evaluated by P3 Communications and was awarded the ‘Best in Test’ P3 certification for both voice and data among Kenyan operators.

We exceeded our target of scoring 650 points with a score of 733 out of a possible 1000, which is a 39% improvement on our performance last year when we scored 527 points. Our nearest competitor scored 358 points. Our results were also the best from the African countries measured by P3, which include Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Egypt.

The seven KPIs tabulated in the preceding table are a simplified illustration of the full scope measured for the P3 Certification Benchmark criteria. For the purposes of this disclosure, we have ranked ourselves against the other Kenyan mobile operators. As the table reflects, we made significant gains in terms of our dropped call ratio, which can be attributed to our ongoing investment in the network and, in particular, the expansion of our 3G and 4G coverage.

CUSTOMER SATISFACTION REMAINS STABLE

Another important metric we use to measure our performance is the networkrelated Net Promoter Score (NPS). The NPS is an independent survey of customer satisfaction and the ‘Network NPS’ metric allows us to monitor whether our customers are experiencing the improvements we make to the network. While NPS is a useful indicator, it is important to note that it measures customer perceptions of network performance, not actual network performance.

As the preceding table shows, our overall Network NPS was 63 in March 2017, a slight decrease of 1 point from 64 in March 2016. The table also illustrates the breakdown of different network elements used to determine the overall NPS. Based on the NPS results, we have noticed that our customers are not satisfied and we will work to improve this.

EXPANDING OUR NETWORK

As part of our commitment to delivering broadband connectivity to as many Kenyans as possible, we surpassed our targets for 3G and 4G deployments. We now offer 85% of the population access to 3G services, which is an increase of 7% and slightly more than our target of 82% of the population with access by the end of March 2017. We also now provide 25% of the population with access to 4G services, an increase of 12%, with 40 counties now covered. We failed to achieve our target of 509 additional 2G-enabled sites due to instability and security concerns in certain parts of the country, but still deployed an additional 487 sites and we continue to provide 95% of the population with access to 2G services.

Our fibre optic network is now 4,700 km in length and connects 54 towns in 46 counties.

GOOD PROGRESS IN EXPANSION OF FIBRE FOOTPRINT

We made good progress in terms of expanding the footprint of our fibre optic network again this year, laying an extra 1,464 kilometres of cables and connecting 36 more towns. Our fibre network is now 4,700 km in length and connects 54 towns in 46 counties. We exceeded our target of 1,429 enterprise buildings connected during the year by 16 buildings and grew the number of connected sites (BTS) to 1,592 or 37% of the network. Early planning and increasing our deployment partners from three to seven ensured we exceeded our target for enterprise buildings, but our real success story for the year was passing by 40,569 residential homes with our infrastructure. We achieved this as a result of early budget approvals and deployment of materials, and by deploying cables overhead (on poles), which is a much faster process than trenching.

NETWORK AVAILABILITY AND STABILITY

The stability and availability of our network remains a critical necessity. Any interruption in energy supply, such as grid electricity outages and national shortages of diesel fuel, poses a direct challenge to the continuity of our operations. Our response to this issue is primarily managed through our service and energy availability rates. Our Service Unavailability Rate (SUR) is calculated by dividing the minutes of downtime per week per network element by the number of sites in our network.

As the preceding table shows, the SUR for the Radio Access Network was reduced from 41.5 minutes in FY16 to 22.9 minutes in FY17. While the reduction is a satisfying achievement and reflects the stability of our network, our target for the year was an SUR of below 20 minutes. The major contributors to our FY17 SUR were Power Outages and Transmission Failures caused by fibre cuts, in particular. Small Cells also contributed to our failure to achieve the target due to their lower resilience. Insecurity in parts of the country also had an impact on the restoration of services at remote locations.

FOCUS ON SOLAR

In response to the SDG strategy, we have adjusted our approach to the mix of energy sources used throughout our network. We now seek to align network availability and energy efficiency with clean, sustainable energy sources and consumption patterns (i.e. reducing our carbon footprint). In practice, this means avoiding, and phasing out, the use of diesel generators wherever possible, either by ensuring that KPLC (national grid) energy is available at a site or by employing alternative energy solutions.

The following table describes the mix of energy sources used throughout our network. The number of 24/7 diesel generator sites increased during the year because of external delays in bringing national grid energy to sites, especially those in more rural locations, but we have begun a programme of prioritising the use of solar-based energy solutions at smaller, ‘capacity’ sites (as opposed to critical ‘coverage’ sites) and we will intensify our efforts in this regard in the year ahead. There are already 90 sites planned for FY18 and we are exploring partnership models in remote areas that will enable local residents to purchase any excess/surplus power.

WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY

In recognition of the gender gap in the field of technology in general we intern 40 women within the Safaricom Technology Division every quarter, which has led to increased opportunities and employment for women within the division.

We also visit schools at all levels (primary, high and tertiary) to encourage girls to study technologyrelated courses by introducing them to the many careers available within the technology sector. Since the start of the Women in Technology programme in 2013, we have visited 25 colleges/technical campuses and 200 secondary schools and many graduate females have found jobs within Safaricom or with our technology partners.

Our vision is still to create a powerful, streamlined network that uses the minimal amount of energy to deliver its growing array of services.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Our network uses a variety of energy sources, including national grid, diesel generator, deep cycle battery and renewable energy (solar) solutions. The network continues to grow in size and sophistication every year and so making it more energy efficient and intelligent remains an ongoing priority. Our vision is still to create a powerful, streamlined network that uses the minimal amount of energy to deliver its growing array of services. One that transforms the lives of the communities it serves with the lightest of environmental touches. One way we manage this ambition is to measure our performance against energy consumption targets (reducing the amount of energy consumed at sites by deploying more energy-efficient technologies and alternative energy solutions).

During the year, we reduced our cost of energy consumption by site by KES 1,678 or 3% to KES 48,614 per month. This was achieved by continuing to modernise the network and to deploy a wide range of energy-efficient solutions, including power cube generators, Low-voltage Auto Phase Selectors (APS), free cooling units, and replacing rectifier and smart controller units.

As part of our efforts to improve energy efficiency, 16 members of staff underwent training on energy management during the year. The CEM-certified course was run by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE).

Network Energy Sources by Site

Looking Ahead

FY18 GOALS

  • Installation of 115 solar-powered sites.y Installation of 115 solar-powered sites.
  • Deployment of 1,100 commercial power smart meters.
  • Rollout of Fuel Management Systems at 2,000 sites.
  • Connection of 318 sites to KPLC commercial power.