Our response to COVID-19

  • All buy goods transactions below KSh 1 000 have been zero-rated to drive cashless payments during this period.
  • Zero-rating of hospital bill payment via paybill.
  • P2P transactions under KSh 1 000 have been zero-rated.
  • Transaction limits have also been increased from KSh 70 000 per session to KSh 150 000 and from KSh 140 000 a day to KSh 300 000 a day.
  • We supported the Matatus associations with collecting payments via M-PESA as a cashless initiative to minimise the increased risks associated with handling cash during the pandemic – 577 PSVs have enrolled for the cashless platform to date.

Mobile communications technology is already an essential part of many people’s lives and part of the fabric of the world in which we live. Our commitment to the SDGs and shared value thinking has helped us realise the tremendous potential that innovative mobile communications applications have in terms of addressing the challenges we face as a society. In addition, as a technology company, we consider innovation to be central to achieving our strategic objectives, retaining our competitive edge, and ensuring that we continue to grow. Constant innovation is an important aspect of ensuring our continued success and resilience.

Managing innovation

During the previous year, we restructured our Strategy and Innovation Division into the Business Development Division. The move consolidated different functions from across the business into the following six teams: Corporate Strategy, Products Innovation, Big Data and Analytics, Market Research and Consumer Insights, Strategic Partnerships & Engagement and Regional Expansion. The strategic Partnerships & Engagement department focuses on identifying opportunities for cross-business collaborations and partnerships.

In FY20, we introduced a Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) department to support strategic acquisitions by the business.

Innovation provides an opportunity to increase our contribution to the SDGs. We are committed to developing, implementing and/or scaling innovations that contribute to affordable healthcare and medical insurance, increased productivity of SMEs and smallholder farmers, deepening access to financial services and enabling greater accessibility to data for all.

Our approach to innovation continues to be guided by the four strategic priorities set by the Business Development Division last year:

Becoming a digital company reviewing our operations, people and tools to be a more digitally in-tune company

Expanding our partnership framework stimulating the wider ecosystem and development of a partnership framework

Regional expansion deepening financial inclusion beyond Kenya

Putting our customers first shaping products and services through data analytics and customer research

M-Pesa Global

M-Pesa Global

Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for our enterprise customers

The Internet of Things (IoT) has ushered in an evolution in the telecommunications sector that is enabling new life-enhancing products and services across different sectors. In the period under review, our enterprise products team focussed on developing solutions that connect devices and sensors to the internet that can collect and exchange data.

An expression of our transformation to being the digital services provider of choice, our IoT solutions enable companies to increase the responsivity and efficiency of their operations through real-time monitoring, managing and optimisation.

At the close of the period under review, we had over 700 0000 devices connected to our network and software solutions and are piloting a range of solutions in a variety of fields, including smart water and power metering, telematics, and asset tracking.

Affordable prepaid gas

Using charcoal or kerosene to cook has hefty environmental and health costs. Charcoal production is responsible for a great deal of unsustainable deforestation in Kenya. It also contributes directly to global warming as the material releases almost double the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned compared to propane or gas. From a health perspective, household air pollution created by the smoke from charcoal and wood fires is a leading cause of respiratory infections and believed to be responsible for more than 15 000 early deaths in Kenya every year.

Propane or gas is a cleaner, more efficient, reliable, and easier to use fuel, but it is economically out of reach for many low-income households since the upfront cost of a gas cylinder can be more than KSh 6 000 and even a refill can cost KSh 2 000.

To address this challenge, we partnered with M-GAS to develop an innovative IoT solution that addresses barriers to accessing clean and affordable energy for low income households in Kenya. Each M-GASs setup includes a 13 kg gas cylinder and 2-burner gas cooker that is provided to customers at no upfront cost. The gas cylinder is equipped with an innovative smart meter that shows the amount of gas for which a customer has paid and how much fuel they have remaining. The gas automatically disconnects when the available balance has been consumed, but top-up payments can be made easily and conveniently through M-PESA. Customers have the flexibility to purchase any amount of gas, from as little as KSh 1. The cost of providing three meals for a household is estimated at less than KSh 70 per day.

Connecting beverage coolers

In November 2019, we partnered with Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) to connect and enhance its cooler cabinets. The connected coolers are wired with sensors that provide real-time information regarding location, power status, temperature and door opening frequency. KBL can use the insights generated by this information to optimise the management of its coolers with greater precision, hence enhancing their sales. Over 2 000 cooler cabinets have already been connected.

Partnering to accelerate the roll-out of cloud services

Cloud services allow businesses to innovate faster, scale quicker and take advantage of the very latest technologies without having to buy, maintain and upgrade expensive physical data centres and servers.

In February 2020, we became the first Amazon Web Services (AWS) Advance Consulting Partner in East Africa. Our AWS partnership means that we can replace end-of-life hardware and software so that our customers can have reliable and stable services to improve SLA/NPS. We upgraded the Cloud to automate provisioning so that we can reduce order fulfilment SLAs. We can now retain, defend and expand our cloud business in the SME and Large Enterprises markets. We have a talent pool of 130 AWS accredited employees and 35 AWS certified professionals able to design and optimise cloud computing solutions that provide businesses of all sizes with the ability to access the infrastructure and services they require cost-effectively and to harness the power of emerging technologies like Big data, Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

We currently have 553 customers taking advantage of our cloud computing expertise.

Partnerships to digitize our customers

In April 2019 we launched phase 3 of the Maisha ni Digital campaign, aimed at supporting more of our customers with feature phones, transition to smart devices and enabling them access a whole new digital experience. The campaign, which is in partnership with Google, aims to provide affordable devices such as the Neon Ray (4G ) and Neon Storm (3G) priced at KSh 3 999 and KSh3 499 respectively.

We also partnered with M-Kopa Solar which enables our customers to acquire highend devices through a check off system. The system allows a customer to win a highend device through instalments of KSh 40 per day. These initiatives have resulted in a significant increase in the number of devices on our network. In FY20, the number of smart phones connected to the network increased by 23% to 15 million and 4G enabled smartphones increased by 91% to 6.1 million.

Digitizing the customer

Partnership for digital postal services

In recent years, due to technology, less people have been using the Post Office. This partnership was aimed at helping to digitise the Post Office service offering. MPost is an innovative solution that provides customers with a digital Post Office Box linked to their mobile phone number. Once registered, customers use their mobile phone number as their PO Box address and choose a Post Office branch from which to collect their letters and parcels. Customers receive a convenient SMS notification when there is post waiting for them.

Digital travel booking service

During the period under review, we partnered with BuuPass, the innovative online bus, shuttle and train booking service to allow passengers to pay for their tickets using M-PESA. Customers can access the service by dialling *877# or visiting and payments for tickets are accepted through M-PESA. Through BuuPass, customers can select a bus operator, preferred travel date and time, and reserve specific seat numbers. Customers can also reserve seats for multiple travellers, with tickets printed at the bus station after presentation of the confirmation SMS.


In FY19, we launched Fuliza a data insight-driven product that allows our customers to complete transactions even with insufficient balances in their M-PESA wallets. The traction that the popular facility had from its launch in January 2019 continued through the period under review, with strong growth in both numbers of customers and volumes of disbursements.

* Cumulative customers who have used the service since launch

No expiry offer for our mobile data customers

During the year, we introduced a no expiry data bundle for our mobile data customers, which is a first of its kind in mobile industry. This was part of our brand refresh and renewed commitment to our customers to be Simple. Transparent. Honest. FOR YOU. The proposition, called NEO, is a no-expiry resources plan that gives customers the freedom to purchase talk time and data bundles of any amount that will not expire, for amounts starting from as little as a single shilling. Customers can view how many megabytes of data, minutes of airtime and SMS units they will receive before completing the transaction. Customers purchasing the new Call and SMS plans receive an additional 50 per cent of talk time with every purchase – enabling them to ‘talk more, for less’.

Technology for development

Our Technology for Development (T4D) unit designs, cocreates and develops products and services that deliver social impact in health, education, agriculture, and other areas aligned to the SDGs. The team uncovers new opportunities and unmet needs, then incubates relevant products and services and scales them through the relevant business units. Besides extending our existing portfolio, such as One Health, Fafanuka and M Salama, we evolved the following products and services during the year:

Health: Safiri Smart

Safiri Smart is a disease surveillance and awareness platform on global outbreaks and epidemics. The service monitors outbreaks and epidemics and sends SMS alerts to travellers informing them of any outbreaks in the country they are visiting, along with the preventative steps they can take to avoid infection. The service which is a partnership with Korea Telcom (KT), had more than 292 000 users at the close of the period under review.

Agriculture: Bima Pima

Bima Pima is a commoditised micro-insurance product for farmers that allows them to purchase seasonal cover for each stage of the farming life cycle. The service has more than 10 000 users.

Looking ahead

  • We will continue to develop and evolve our data analytics models and tools to drive smarter business decisions and actions.
  • We will continue to explore opportunities for partnerships, mergers and acquisitions to win in select digital ecosystems.
  • We intend to finalise partnerships with Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud to enhance our cloud computing services and solutions.
  • We intend to grow Safiri Smart to at least 300 000 users and start providing regional and local (in country) alerts and advice.
  • We intend to extend our Bima Pima insurance offering to 100 000 users during FY21.
  • We intend to expand our financial services offering into the region.
  • We intend to enter into partnerships with content providers to supply content to residential fibre customers.