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Beleaguered Safaricom shuts down comments section after M-Pesa crash

On Tuesday, leading telco giant Safaricom turned off its comment section where they had shared their press release announcing the resumption of M-Pesa services.

On January 9, midmorning, Safaricom notified its customers of a technical hitch that was affecting its mobile money service, M-Pesa.

It further assured users of the mobile money transfer service that they are working to resolve the hitch.

“Our apologies for the inconvenience caused, we have a technical issue affecting M-Pesa, resolution is in progress, we ask for your patience,” Safaricom said on its social media accounts.

Several hours later, the telco said that all M-Pesa services are now available and apologises for the inconveniences caused by the outage.

“All M-Pesa service are now available. We apologise for any inconveniences caused and thank you for your patience as worked to restore services,” the company said shortly after 3 pm on Tuesday.

Also read: Safaricom responds to MPESA messages with RIP prefix

Users complained of being stranded while trying to pay for services. One user said: ” M-Pesa under maintenance is the most heartbreaking experience ever especially if you are used to the cashless life. Now life has to stand still until they finish whatever they are doing.”

Another one said: M-Pesa left me stranded for some good minutes. I told this guy to send me his number I’ll send it to him later, and he said, ‘Haina noma’. Gosh I was moved. I’ll actually send him double.”

Another user claimed that it was the government that had shut down the Safaricom-owned M-Pesa services to integrate it with the Kenya Revenue Authority.

“Government has shut down M-pesa through Safaricom to integrate it with KRA systems that is why Mpesa is down,” the X post read.

This forced KRA to issue a statement, flagging it as fake, a tweet that has been going viral on social media alleging that the state had a hand in M-Pesa downtime.

“Kindly be advised that this is fake news,” KRA said through a post on X.

Also read: How city man’s plan to con attendant using altered Mpesa message failed

Safaricom did not say why they turned off all their social media comment sections after releasing the statement.

In 2016, a Treasury report warned that the collapse of Safaricom’s M-Pesa service would cause widespread disruption in the economy, indicating the deep entrenchment of mobile money transactions in Kenyans’ daily lives.

According to Business Daily, the Treasury’s Budget Policy Statement (BPS) released in 2016 showed that a technology disaster affecting the M-Pesa-dominated mobile transactions was a fiscal risk, placing the money transfer systems among other potential threats to the economy that are watched keenly by policy wonks.

The authors of the report predicted that an M-Pesa outage would cause a loss of revenue — direct excise tax and corporate tax by firms running the systems — and reduce confidence in the services.

That was the first time the mobile money transfer system featured among the fiscal risks, indicative of the strategic importance it has acquired in Kenya’s economy barely a decade after the launch of M-Pesa.