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Rene Meza -- answer Africa's call

In reality, the trouble with customers is one and singular. They are always asking for too much. You see, businesses were created for all reasons except to serve the interest of the customer.

I mean, why would anyone in their right minds , even consider, let alone think, about starting up a business that would offer solutions for clients? Ask yourself why? Why?

The creation of businesses until Steve Jobs came around with a ridiculous Apple for a company and brand name was always about the self satisfaction of the business owner. Okay. If you don't get it, then, like me you are daft.

No, not Mr Meza. I am talking about you who is still reading this. The guy who founded the telephone, Alexander Bell, was bored and playing around. In the process, he revolutionized the World.

Yeah, that's right, he had no intention of starting up a company to serve you and me grandpa's. No. Neither did Wright brothers with the aircraft. They were toying around. And see where we have come so far.

Boeings, Airbuses, Twin Otters, even Fokkers with Friendship added to them. Just in case you doubted that these gizmos are being done in your favour.

But the reality remains, particularly where the operators get into these businesses for the purpose, and sole purpose of, making a living out of them. It sort of explains why Mr Rene Meza is our chief guest in the column today.

A few years back, owning and operating a mobile phone company was, a novelty. Indeed Tanzania was ahead of the rest of East African countries in liberalizing the mobile phone to the level of 'mwananchi.'

It became a tool of the people long before jirani zetu (our neighbours) Kenya, could even imagine the prospect. This year, Safaricom Kenya Ltd, which is majority owned by small shareholders in Kenya and elsewhere but attractively managed by minority pre-emptive rights shareholders Vodafone UK PLC, celebrated the 5th year of success of M-Pesa.

Vodafone UK PLC owns controlling shares in Vodacom Tanzania through Vodacom South Africa and therein lies the link between Safaricom and Vodacom Tanzania. 

Safaricom, established in 1999 has become East Africa's most successful company, thanks to the 25m customers and still counting. It's M-Pesa money transfer commands 17 million account holders and transacts more than all of  the cash that Western Union transacts per day worldwide.

One is extremely successful. The other is struggling. The success is with Kenya's Safaricom where over 16 million people are subscribers. The transactions made by Safaricom-M-Pesa are way beyond  what International Money service does all over the World.

Mr Rene Meza, as Tanzanians would say, Safaricom "wamekubipu" (you have received a message for a missed call). You have not been called. For you to return the call and make Tanzania give you honorary citizenship as Kenya gave Michael Joseph (including a Roving Ambassador Status), it's your call to make.

It is not about glory, it is about changing the status of Tanzanians as M-Pesa has done for Kenyans. That M-pesa is not owned by Vodacom Tanzania,  but by the dealers and sub- dealers and agents.

The statistics on financial access before the launch of M-Pesa in Kenya show that the formal financial system was serving just over a quarter (26.4%) of Kenya's adult population.

Kenya had only 450 bank branches and 600 automatic teller machines or less than two bank branches per 100,000 people.

Today M-Pesa has more than 35,000 agents countrywide and about 70 per cent of financial transactions are now handled by M-Pesa, which is a ubiquitous venue for utility bills, water purchases, farm equipment purchases, payroll, goods and services and international money transfers.

Today over 700 businesses have integrated with M-Pesa to extend various innovative services to all Kenyans at lower cost to the people in remote areas. In agriculture, UAP Insurance and the Syngenta Foundation are offering farmers index-based insurance dubbed 'Kilimo Salama' using M-Pesa to collect small premiums and issue payouts.

Kick start is using M-Pesa layaway programme to enable poor farmers acquire irrigation pumps. In health, Changamka Microhealth is using M-Pesa's bill pay function to help expectant mothers save for maternity health care.

In water, Grundfos Lifelink has leveraged M-Pesa to create a fee-for-service model whereby rural communities access safe water and pay for it using M-Pesa.

In microfinance, Women Enterprise Fund is using M-Pesa to provide easier, faster, efficient and secure loan repayment method.  In charity, Concern Worldwide is combating severe malnutrition in slums using M-Pesa money transfer service to enable people buy food.

In business, Kopo Kopo is enabling small and medium sized businesses process M-Pesa payments. Mr Rene Meza, Tanzanians are beeping. Will you answer the call? And give millions more jobs and hope? Africa as one is a good start.

The writer is a Media Consultant. He is the Managing Editor of Utafiti News Features. He can be reached at utafitinews@yahoo.com Twitter@motowntz

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