Two Kenyans have taken Safaricom to court for charging a 10 percent fee on Okoa Jahazi airtime. The petitioners, Ashford Koome and Eric Kithinji, claim that the interest charges on the airtime are illegal since Safaricom is not licensed to offer banking services.
However, Safaricom has defended itself saying the Communications Authority of Kenya has approved the charges. Additionally, the company says that the fees are not interest but service charges.
“It is my understanding therefore that Safaricom does not charge interest on the airtime it advances to its prepaid subscribers as alleged by the petitioner. Safaricom simply charges a service fee for subscribers who exercise the option of using the Okoa Jahazi service,” Safaricom said.
The petitioners want the charges declared as illegal since Safaricom is neither a lending institution nor a bank. Furthermore, they claim that the company has not published any terms and conditions, which exposes consumers to hidden conditions and random tariffs. The petitioners also claim that the 10 percent charge is very high for some subscribers, an act that is predatory for a company that claims to support the Common Mwananchi. Nevertheless, Safaricom has fought back these claims saying its terms and conditions are publicised in print and online.