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Economy

Lobby says Safaricom agents harmed in parts of Nyanza

A Safaricom dealer shop in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE | NMG
A Safaricom dealer shop in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE | NMG 

Safaricom #ticker:SCOM dealers say that the call for boycott of its products by opposition coalition Nasa has affected business in parts of Nyanza region.

The group, at a press conference Monday morning, said the boycott call has slowed down business that was already affected by the protracted electioneering period.

“We've got reports from Homa Bay area where people have been physically harmed," said Kennedy Ondiek, a Safaricom dealer in Rift Valley, Nyanza and part of Western Kenya.

Jerim Ouko, owner of Simba Telecom which has a countrywide presence, told the Business Daily today that his business in Nyanza and Western – largely considered Nasa strongholds – had been hit since the boycott call was made on Friday.

“Safaricom agents who are doing activation there had to literally run for their lives and all their things were confiscated last Friday,” Ouko said.

The group claims that more than a million Kenyans stand to be directly affected in the call to boycott products.

Opposition call

Nasa on Friday called for Kenyans to boycott Safaricom for its alleged role in aiding the rigging of the August 8 election and October 26 presidential elections.

Raila Odinga, Nasa’s leader and presidential candidate, successfully contested President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win in the August 8 poll and boycotted the fresh election that the Supreme Court ordered, insisting it would not be “free and fair”.

The opposition alliance has accused Safaricom, which was contracted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to help with results transmission, of messing up the assignment and aiding the cover-up in the period that followed.

Esther Muchemi, owner of Samchi Telecom, told the Business Daily on the sidelines of Monday's press briefing that her business had declined by nearly a third during the extended poll period.

“We have felt the pinch and we don’t want it continue much longer,” Ms Muchemi, who is also chair of the Safaricom Dealers Association, said.

Safaricom dealers account for about 80 per cent of its retail business, which includes selling airtime cards in wholesale and managing M-Pesa float on a regional basis.

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