Safaricom customers to pay more for calls, Fuliza

A woman making a phone call

A woman making a phone call.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Safaricom customers will now pay Sh4.87 per minute for calls made between 8am and 10pm after the telco announced a review of its prices to reflect the increase in excise duty on airtime and telephone services from 15 percent to 20 per cent.

Callers will also pay Sh2.50 for calls made between 10pm and 8am as Kenyans begin to shoulder a retinue of new taxes contained in the Finance Act, 2021 which was assented to by President Uhuru Kenyatta last week.

Safaricom customers on the prepaid tariff previously paid Sh4.3 per minute during peak hours and Sh2.2 per minute during off-peak. The rise in excise duty means the cost of sending an SMS will also increase to Sh1.20 per message, while that of browsing with airtime when data bundles are exhausted will increase to Sh4.87 for each megabyte.

“All out-of-bundle voice calls, data and SMS, as well as integrated plans including All-In-One will be revised to reflect the increased Excise Duty,” read a Wednesday notice from Safaricom to its customers in part.

Roaming and international calling rates have also been revised to reflect the 20 per cent excised duty.

Meanwhile, borrowers have also not been spared as they will have to pay more fees to get a loan from Fuliza, Mshwari, KCB-Mpesa and other digital loans.

“Dear customer, following the enactment of the Finance Act, 2021 by the government, we wish to inform you that beginning July 1, the fees on your M-Shwari loan will be subject to Excise Duty at 20 per cent,” Safaricom had earlier notified its customers.

The cost of all Fibre for Home as well as Fibre for Business plans will also be revised to reflect the increased duty rate.

The cost of Safaricom home fibre for the lowest package will rise to Sh2999 from Sh2900, while the silver package increases to Sh4100 from Sh3999. Meanwhile, the gold and diamond packages will cost Sh6299 and Sh12499 respectively, up from Sh5699 and Sh11499.

All personal postpaid products and services have also been reviewed accordingly.

Kenyans across all networks will have to pay more to access telecommunication services after the government announced it plans to collect an approximate Sh8 billion from the 62 million mobile phone subscribers through enactment of the Finance bill, 2021.

Airtel Kenya was the first telco in Kenya to notify its customers last week on Friday of the increase in call and data rates via SMS in line with the new excise duty, where they stated that their revised call rate would be Sh2.78 per minute.

“Dear customer, due to an increase in Excise Duty from 15 per cent to 20 per cent, Airtel will increase its headline voice tariff to Sh2 plus taxes which will equate to Sh2.78,” said Airtel Kenya managing director Prasanta Das Sarma last week.

Meanwhile, Telkom Kenya, which is the third largest telco by customer numbers, has not yet announced its revised calling rates but is expected to follow suit in due course.

The company currently charges Sh1.5 per minute for voice calls.

The higher costs of airtime and loans come at a time Kenyans are reeling from a rising cost of necessities including bread, maize flour, cooking gas and fuel, which has increased the cost of living.

Last month, Kenyans paid 6.32 per cent more to purchase basic commodities, which is the highest increase in the cost of living since February last year.