Kenyan mobile network operator Safaricom has unveiled a backup service for storing contacts for close to 10 million users of non-data phones, allowing users to save their contacts even if they need to replace their SIM.
Safaricom subscribers have until the middle of next month to access the service for free.
The system works by downloading a phonebook backup application, activating Safaricom’s contacts backup service for data phones. Once the user has downloaded the app, it will synchronize contacts in their handset and back them up on the Safaricom server.
According to Safaricom’s head of communications and public relations Victoria Kaigai, the product is as a result of consumer demands, with about 2.8 million subscribers per year – 70 percent of those replacing SIM cards – asking the company to assist them recover lost contacts.
“These subscribers express frustration when they replace their lines due to loss as they lose the contacts they had either on their line or phone. There was then an opportunity to therefore avail to them a service that would allow them to simply back-up their contacts and in the event of a loss retrieve them in a simple and efficient manner,” she said.
Over 4 million subscribers replace their SIM cards annually, according to data from Safaricom. However, the service is primarily meant for those owning non-data enabled phones as smartphone users can easily back up their contacts for free using various applications.
For the non-data enabled phones, which Safaricom estimates to be constitute half of its connected handsets, the service will only store contacts in the SIM card.
The service, which will automatically renew, will see users charged KSh1 a week to continue with the service, while those who retrieve contacts will be charged KSh25 (approx. $0.29).
Kaigai says the product “professionalizes” an exercise” that has seen some subscribers store their contacts using basic methods such as Excel documents as well as diaries and phone books.
The product could make Safaricom around KSh500 million (approx. $5.83million) annually, or Kshs. 10 million (approx. $116,700) weekly, given the large volume of non-data subscribers.
A sizeable number of subscribers using smartphones are also expected to incur the expense for storage despite their ability to store the same in the cloud.
Safaricom says the product will assist millions of subscribers with no contact backup to have a reliable and secure place to store their contacts.