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Digital Inclusion

250,000 Kenyans got a Safaricom smartphone on credit

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Around 250,000 customers bought smartphones through Safaricom's financing project – known as "Lipa Mdogo Mdogo" – between its launch last July and the end of March 2021.

That's according to Safaricom's Annual report for 2021 which shows that over 60% of the people who took up the credit program upgraded from a 2G or 3G device to a 4G device.

During the financial year ended March 31, 2021, Safaricom's active 4G devices grew 39.8% year-on-year (YoY) to 8.5 million.

The Kenyan operator partnered with Google and Android in July 2020 to help enable Kenyans to afford 4G-enabled smartphones. Lipa Mdogo Mdogo lets qualifying customers buy 4G-enabled smartphones and pay them off in very low installments of as little as 20 Kenyan shillings (US$0.18) a day.

One of Safaricom's short-term goals is to democratize data and grow smartphone penetration and usage in Kenya.

"One of the most significant barriers to mobile Internet adoption has always been that of smartphone affordability. Access to smartphone devices in Kenya is still quite low with many Kenyans still on 2G and 3G devices," Safaricom said in the report.

Safaricom has 39.9 million total customers, of which 31.45 million were one-month active customers and 20.04 million were active data customers at the end of March. The number of data customers using more than 1GB on the network grew 31.1% YoY to 6.1 million.

The operator said its 4G network now covers 94% of the Kenyan population, up 17% YoY.

Safaricom said that its most affordable 4G smartphone is the Neon Ray which costs KES3,999 ($37).

The telco has 64.4% market share in Kenya.

*Top image source: Safaricom.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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