Here is my opinion about this Safaricom IPO (of course I have one, don’t I?) thing; if you have some money when the bell rings for the Safaricom shares today, buy. I would if I could. In most places, investment decisions are driven by fear and greed, but only in Kenya Kenya, by politicians’ whims. I feel like I’ve been preaching to stones but I will never tire of telling us to stop being held hostage by politicians every time Kibaki doesn’t budge. It’s been the norm for ODM to threaten the Kenyan government with mass protests every time the ODM side did not get what they wanted. Not that ODM goes to the mass protests. Last time I checked it was the ‘meat’, not ‘bones’ ministries that they wanted. And there seems to be no better means of getting them than asking you not to go to work (if you have a job, isn’t it sad?) but go protest on the streets. I want to ask you ODManiacs, what’s in it (protests, or boycotting the IPO) for you?
Let me tell you why I think you should invest in Safaricom and telecommunication in general-it’s not only growing at the speed of light (OK, that is an exaggeration) , but the innovations in place are making even the developed countries gawk. Do you know that mobile banking is a relatively new concept hukos? Less than 10 years ago, very few - and only rich- Kenyans could afford landline phones. In 2008, many, even the poor, have cell phones. That is development, no pun intended. Safaricom came in as only the second national operator and was able to sign in multiples of what Celtel had in a matter of months. As I write this, they are probably in their 8th prefix in the 8 or so years that they have been in operation. Their profits have been astronomical. Isitoshe, they have transferred billions of shillings to millions of Kenyans whom the banks could not profitably reach in their now 1-year old M-Pesa product. And you tell me I can’t own part of that growth if I could? Dream on.
Second reason; it’s your country, own as much of it as you can. Kenya ni yetu, au sio? Kwanza if you have shares, you have a say. If you had the chance would your rather; vote, or whine?
To the rumour mongers: No in my opinion, Safaricom never made any undue profits. They had the ‘second mover advantage’ that enabled them to learn what the then Kencel had not done right, and hit the ground running. While I’m proud of Kencel’s successor, Celtel as the baby of our very own Mo Ibrahim, they seem to think that Africa is one big market with no individual countries that are very particular (“Hello Africa! Tell me how you’re doing!” Sounds familiar?) in what they need. If my memory serves me right, Safaricom was the first to introduce the 100 bob credit that needed no scratch card. Safcom recently introduced a 20 bob credit that is within reach for most of its customers. Now that gets more people switching to Safaricom, increasing revenue, and yes - making profit. Add to that our peculiar calling habits, and again M-Pesa.
So if you have some money, buy! If you have some but would rather go mass- protesting because someone thinks for you, well, honestly dear, I’d rather you just shut up and drink the kool-aid. But if you miraculously survive and, a few years down the line someone fails to be P, VP, PM, DPM, M or AM of some ‘meat ministry’ and you end up feeling a strong urge to burn Safaricom House or Telekom House because they are ‘owned by Kikuyus’, ask yourself who prevented you from owning it, then go burn his house.