What you need to know:
- For queries that require technical details, Safaricom says a team of 300 medical doctors is being housed at one of its offices in Westlands.
- It has already collaborated with various stakeholders that offer educational content for learners in primary and secondary schools.
An average of 20,000 people have been calling the government-backed Covid-19 hotline every day since the service was launched, data from Safaricom reveals.
The toll-free 719, created days after the first case of the coronavirus disease was confirmed in Kenya, has been busy since it was opened to the public.
Receiving calls are 300 Safaricom customer care agents who have been trained to handle queries pertaining to the pandemic.
For queries that require technical details, Safaricom says a team of 300 medical doctors is being housed at one of its offices in Westlands.
Equally, Safaricom has disclosed that the code *719#, created to offer various quick tips on Covid-19, is accessed on average 300,000 times a day, showing that Kenyans are keen to get as much information about the disease as they can.
The telecommunication company made the revelations last week when asked to explain more on the Sh5.7 billion it has committed towards helping Kenyans cope with the deadly virus.
The call centres, offered to the government for free, are among the interventions made.
“Safaricom is the biggest company in this country and we are aware that we are expected to play a big role in supporting our community and our customers as we go through this tough period,” the company’s CEO Peter Ndegwa said on Friday.
“We will keep this call centre going during this period. We will continue to support the Ministry of Health as it embarks on ensuring that we keep everyone safe,” he added.
Another intervention has been in the matatu industry, where the telco allows passengers to pay fare as if they were sending money to another person — which means no transaction fees for amounts below Sh1,000 — to reduce cash transactions.
Safaricom says that by Friday, more than 500 matatu operators from across the country had taken up the service and that more were enrolling.
“This is a specialised product that we have created to meet the needs of the public transport sector and the uptake has been quite positive,” Mr Ndegwa told the Sunday Nation.
The company’s figures state that more than 13,000 passengers were using the service by Friday.
Many corporates across Kenya have offered a lending hand to the government and to Kenyans as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on.
Oil marketers, for instance, have converted some of their plants into hand sanitiser factories. A number of local banks, insurers and other businesses have also committed millions into the Covid-19 emergency fund. Other companies have also made donations in kind.
Safaricom says its contributions take cognisance of the fact that it is an essential service provider, offering communication solutions and money-transfer services.
That is why a number of its interventions, for example the doubled internet speeds for its home fibre buyers, will go on for three months.
“We will play a leadership role and I’m very delighted about the contribution that we have made and will continue to make over the next few weeks,” Mr Ndegwa said.
He observed that the company has made network upgrades that were scheduled for future dates. For its fibre-optic customers, the telco has expanded its content caches. These are used to store the popular images and videos from top streaming sites.
“This means that if many of our customers are watching a certain YouTube video, each request goes to these content caches inside our network rather than to YouTube servers and this results in better speeds and higher quality for our customers,” said Mr Ndegwa.
Another area where Safaricom has chipped in is providing distance learning. By Friday, the telco said it was in discussions with 17 universities on how to roll out remote learning programmes.
It has already collaborated with various stakeholders that offer educational content for learners in primary and secondary schools.
“We have entered partnerships with various education content providers including Eneza Education, Longhorn and ViuSasa. The material is accessible via SMS-based platforms and e-learning platforms so that all students can access this content regardless of the devices they are using,” he said.
Regarding last week’s contribution of Sh200 million to be spent on buying food for needy Kenyans, Mr Ndegwa said it will compliment its efforts to support the health of Kenyans.