Safaricom on Spot Over Recent Finance Bill Protests

Safaricom on Spot Over Recent Finance Bill Protests

The Kenyan telecom company Safaricom is on spot over recent finance bill protests that saw an internet outage across the country. The leading company through subscribers, is being dragged by netizens after it allegedly switched off the internet in parts of Nairobi leading to interruptions on Tuesday evening. The move affected various critical apps including M-PESA App and Safaricom App.

Safaricom on its part issued a statement saying the interruption, which also affected M-Pesa, was due to an outage of the undersea cables.

Social media users also accused the telecommunications company of colluding with the police by sharing customers’ location information. This info was used in tracking persons of interest leading to the arrests of tens of protesters who were vocal on social media in rejecting the infamous tax proposals bill.

As a result, Kenyans are threatening to boycott the network provider.

In a statement, Safaricom said it respects its customers’ privacy and adheres to Kenya’s data protection laws. The law “requires data processors and controllers to safeguard digital and physical personal data from unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, or destruction.”

“We do not share any customer data unless explicitly required of us via a court order. On the current issue in discussion, we confirm that we have not received any court order requiring us to share customer information with any government agency,” the telco said.

Safaricom explains network outage during protests

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa also issued a statement asking for restraint: “I want to sincerely apologize for the network outage that started on the 25th of June. This network outage was caused by reduced bandwidth on some cables that carry internet traffic. Please note that this did not only affect Safaricom but also the whole industry,” he said.

“We are doing everything to ensure that we give you the service that you deserve and bring back the service as soon as possible. Safaricom is committed to serving all Kenyans without discrimination and we will continue to do so now and in the future.”

He also mourned those who lost their lives during the protests.

Safaricom on Spot Over Recent Finance Bill Protests
Kenyan youth protesting against Finance Bill 2024/Photo Courtesy

“I pass my deep condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives during the recent protests. I acknowledge and appreciate those who exercised their civic rights to participate in the peaceful protests. Your actions and courage speak highly of our democracy,” he said.

Kenyans who were plain angry took to X, to express their frustrations, claiming the move by the network was aimed at preventing live coverage of the protests. Many users are now planning to come together to mobilize a massive shift from the giant telco that has been iconic in Kenya’s technological development.

The service provider maintained its innocence and assured their subscribers that redundancy measures were activated to minimize service interruption and keep customers connected ahead of the full restoration of cables.