The country’s leading telecommunications company Safaricom LTD has once again become a topic of discussion on social media after a young Kenyan accused the firm of purloining an innovative idea which he proposed to them and they adopted it as their own.
Through a Twitter post published on Thursday, 29 July, the chap only identified as Kiprono claimed that about a year ago he submitted an idea to Safaricom on how to make it possible for one subscriber to share his mobile data with other subscribers without necessarily being in the same location.
Essentially, this would be like enabling a customer to turn their sim card into some kind of a wireless access point but one which is not limited to location.
As he explains in his post, this would mean that a Safaricom subscriber based in Kisumu could share his data with someone as far as Mombasa.
“About a year ago I shared this idea with Safaricom on how one client can share data bundles with others no matter the distance, for example, I can hotspot someone in Mombasa while I am in Kisumu through Safaricom. Fast forward to 2021, they adopted the idea,” he wrote.
From the screenshots attached to his tweet, Kiprono suggested the idea to Safaricom on June 19, 2020, to which they gave a very cold and unfriendly response.
“Hey Safaricom, I have an idea. Sharing of bundles can be made easier through linking of several numbers to one host number,” he wrote, adding, “E.g.
I can buy bundles on my number and then through a subscription I can link my wife, daughter, and so on, to use the same data even if they are far off.”
In their rejoinder to Kiprono on the same day, Safaricom turned him down and claimed the company only accepts proposals which they have solicited themselves.
“In terms of supporting innovation, we partner with different innovators who already have existing solutions in the market,” they responded.
In another case where Safaricom was accused of stealing yet another idea, a man who claimed the company seized his idea to launch M-Pesa payments using a simple tap of a card, wrist band or a phone sticker on Friday lost his bid to be paid Sh209 million by the telecommunications firm after High Court judge Grace Nzioka dismissed the case.
Jonathan Murangiri Gikabu challenged that M-Pesa 1 Tap was his brainchild after he sold the idea to Safaricom in 2014.
The innovator sued Safaricom saying he shared confidential information with the telecommunications company only for it to use his idea to launch its NFC [Near Field Communication] mobile payment system for non-smartphones known as ‘M-Pesa 1 Tap’.
But, according to the court, Mr Gikabu failed to prove that Safaricom seized the idea from him.
Unlike Mr Gikabu, Kiprono on his own part did not officially patent his idea and only suggested it to Safaricom.
But even so, some netizens have argued, the company ought to have at least acknowledged Kiprono’s idea and offer him a token of appreciation.
“In other countries, you would have received some payment for mental property. In Africa, we are just fine with recognition, or better still, just implementation.,” wrote one Kenyan.
“Honestly speaking, this is not fair. Let’s get this man what he needs, someone probably pitched it and they were given a raise,” added another one.
Here is what a few more had to say.
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