…The journey to that phone call had begun at an insurance industry
dinner two years earlier, in early 2006, at the Panari Hotel in
Nairobi. Then, Mr Kagwe was the guest of honour.
After his speech, a journalist had asked him to state the one thing he
hoped to achieve at the ICT ministry. He told the journalist that he
wanted Kenyans to communicate easily and cheaply with the world.
At the time it cost Sh35 per minute to make a phone call within the
Safaricom network during peak hours and up to Sh50 per minute to other
These high costs made Kenyans wait until off-peak hours to make
cheaper calls, which often clogged the Safaricom network in the
evening, rendering it impossible for anyone to get through.
This state of affairs led then Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph to accuse
Kenyans of peculiar calling habits, causing a PR crisis for the
company. Internet connections, on the other hand, were a nightmare.