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Kenyans urged to cashless, work from home amid Coronavirus pandemic

Kenya , 16 Mar 2020
Industry experts appeal to ISPs and other service providers to adjust tariffs in light of situation.
Industry experts appeal to ISPs and other service providers to adjust tariffs in light of situation.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta urged citizens to embrace cashless payment such as mobile money, debit and credit card payments, to reduce physical contact amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Speaking yesterday, the president detailed measures the government will take to curtail the spread of the virus, including that businesses and organisations allow their employees to work from home.

“In order to avoid the risk of transmission through the handling of money, we encourage the use of cashless transactions such as mobile money and credit cards. We appeal to mobile operators and banks to take note of the situation we are in and to reduce (the) cost of transactions during this period,” said Kenyatta.

There has been no response from any mobile operator or bank to the government appeal.

Kenya has an impressive track record of mobile money use in Africa, most notably M-Pesa. Others include T-Kash from Telecom Kenya and Airtel Money from Airtel Kenya.

According to the Communication Authority of Kenya’s latest quarterly report (July – September 2019), there were 31,285,208 mobile money subscriptions in the country.

“In addition, there were 425.3 million mobile commerce transactions implying that KSh.1.6 trillion was spent to purchase goods and services online during the quarter,” the report states.

Data from the Central Bank of Kenya reflects 6,799,556 debit card transactions and 59,419 credit card transactions in December 2019.

Experts have also called on ISPs to reduce cost of connectivity and avail redundancies to enable people to work from home.

Local telecommunications market analyst Tom Makau posted a tweet which reads: “Safaricom, Liquid Telecom, Faiba JTL and Zuku, better ensure their home service is upgraded and 100% uptime and consider to not change/refresh DHCP assigned public IPs to homes for a month+ to allow people set up corporate VPNs #StayHome.”

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