Third Eye

Safaricom downtime concern to customers

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021 00:00 |
A view of the Safaricom headquarters in Westlands, Nairobi. Photo/PD/FILE

Safaricom’s announcement that every M-Pesa service will be disrupted tonight due to a scheduled internal maintenance of the telco’s systems should be a call to action for the organisation.

In a notice issued yesterday, the telco said the disruption will affect all transactions from midnight to Wednesday, October 20 at 4am.

While Safaricom says the timing has been planned to minimise disruption to customers, the downtime which comes hardly a month after another in September, may pique some curiosity.

Safaricom had announced it was conducting a maintenance exercise on its mobile money platform between midnight September 21 to the early hours of September 22 when millions of Kenyans were left without the crucial services for hours.

We may say bigger corporations, including the globally acclaimed Facebook, have had a downtime.

However, it must not be lost that Safaricom is a key pillar of the economy, and its services are not only corporate but also a national concern.

During the Facebook outage the fear was private user data may be compromised given the three platforms are used by almost half of the world population.

Facebook Inc lost billions of dollars as a result. For M-Pesa, it might be difficult to estimate the revenue loss to the firm and individuals, but it can run into millions of shillings.

It is worth noting the company has been deepening its firewalls, which saw 28 employees fired in March for fraud-related offences, which is a surge from 16 dismissals the previous year.

Majority of the latest cases (22) were linked to data privacy with eight involving breach of policy and four SIM swap cases while two cases involved asset misappropriation.

Indeed, Safaricom has reiterated it has established fraud management squads specialising in analytics to drive safety through accelerated use of machine learning and automation, continuous fraud awareness and process reviews.

Having said that, it would put Kenyans and investors at ease by reducing downtime frequency.

Alternatively, better ways can be used to solve inevitable system upgrades and related issues without grounding an application as important as M-Pesa for hours.

Maybe, this is where experts of blockchain technology could come in handy to leverage networks where downtime in one service does not affect uptime of other services.

The telco is such an important national security and economic concern to take chances with.

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