‘Please Call Me’ inventor to be paid Sh1.4bn, court rules

Nkosana Makate please call me

Mr Nkosana Makate. 

Photo credit: Pool

After a two-decade fight, a court in South Africa has ordered Vodacom, a sister company to Safaricom, to pay the inventor of “Please Call Me” (PCM) 5 per cent of the total voice revenue generated by the product over the past 20 years.

The ruling delivered by Gauteng High Court in Pretoria and found that the telecommunications giant, which owns a 35 per cent stake in Safaricom Plc, shortchanged inventor Nkosana Makate.

The "Please Call Me" function allows Vodacom-linked network callers in 32 countries including Kenya to notify the message recipients to call them back.

The South Africa-based multinational currently owns a 35 percent stake in Safaricom. 

The amount is much higher than he was previously offered by the giant mobile phone operator following a 2019 Constitutional Court ruling. Makate, who described the judgment as a "big relief", had rejected the first settlement and sought a court review.

Although the firm offered Mr Makate Sh345 million (R47 million), the court termed the sum as far too conservative.

“Vodacom CEO was disingenuous to project that PCM, as a third-party service provider, should only be allocated a duration of five years,” the judge said.

She ordered that Makate be paid 5 percent of the total voice revenue generated from “Please Call Me” - starting from March 2001 to March 2021 - and not only for five years as earlier calculated by Vodacom. 


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