In an interview with CNN’s Eleni Giokos, Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa discussed the impact of the pandemic and how the telecommunications industry can help connect the continent.
Safaricom, the largest telecommunications provider in Kenya, saw growth in its money transfer platform M-Pesa as it waived fees for small transactions, in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus through in-person payments.
Ndegwa believes that by encouraging people to use online services, Covid-19 has accelerated connectivity in Africa. He speaks about how Safaricom handled the pandemic,
“Our first priority as a business was to make sure that we keep the country connected. We have 38 million customers that we serve either for data or voice. The second thing was to use the M-Pesa platform as a way of reducing cash handling. Then third, of course, was recognising that everyone was staying [at] and working from home. We doubled bandwidth on the home fibre side.”
Launched in Kenya in 2007, M-Pesa is now available in seven African countries and used for transactions worth $12 billion each month. Ndegwa thinks that trade agreements like the African Continental Free Trade Area will be beneficial for intra-African trade,
“Telecommunication businesses will make a big difference to free trade in Africa. I’m really delighted to have worked in both East Africa and also in the West, in Ghana and Nigeria — and seeing how little trade flows across between East and West, I think there’s a real opportunity to enhance that, and telecommunication companies play a big role.”