Safaricom was founded in 1997, and in 2008, 25% of the company was listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange. It is the leading mobile operator in Kenya, with more than 40 million customers as of March 2022. The company launched its innovative mobile money product M-PESA in 2007 with 30.5 million users and more than 262,004 agents as of March 2022.
Safaricom advances digital inclusion through various programmes. Its Women in Technology programme enhances women’s access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) opportunities through internships, mentorships, training and other initiatives. Furthermore, the company partnered with the Kenyan National Council for Persons with Disabilities to connect persons with disabilities with job opportunities through an online portal. Additionally, it has trained over 100 retail franchise employees in sign language to remove communication barriers between them and deaf colleagues and customers. Safaricom is among the few companies that calculates its indirect economic impact. It has estimated that it contributed to 5.25% of the Kenyan gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021, sustaining over one million jobs.
Safaricom actively contributes to the development of basic and intermediate digital skills, as well as to school connectivity. In partnership with the community-based organisation CodeYetu, the company launched the Kids-Go-Tech initiative, where kids are exposed to programming languages, computational thinking skills and applications development. Safaricom Foundation’s Wezesha programme, in partnership with Generations and Cloud Factory, empowers Kenya’s young people through in-class digital and cloud skills training that aims to enhance their employability. In 2022, the initiative supported 2,050 youth.Safaricom’s Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme supported the establishment of the Waithaka Vocational Training Centre, which provides training in plumbing, welding and electrical engineering, among others. Additionally, Safaricom collaborated with the Android developer Litemore on Zeraki Learning, a digital learning platform which aims to facilitate remote-learning content through mobile phones in remote and disadvantaged areas. Since its inception, the project has reached 30% of secondary schools in Kenya with 100,000 downloads by individual learners.
The company has a security incident response team, publishes a group privacy statement and considers cyber resilience and data privacy key topics in its materiality analysis. Safaricom also partners with the Kenyan government and other Kenyan telecommunication operators on a child online safety website, as well as with the Internet Watch Foundation on child safety issues.
Safaricom supports the tech start-up ecosystem by providing venture capital investment to Kenyan companies and running accelerator programmes under the Acumen Academy. Safaricom is also a leading example in sustainability research and support. The company partners with MK-Africa, a sustainability strategy company, for MyLittleBigThings – an innovation challenge to support solutions for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is high-level support for the SDGs at the company and it has incorporated the goals into its performance objectives to ensure that sustainability is at the heart of its business. Additionally, the company reports the number of its women employees working in tech roles.
While Safaricom has initiatives to support access to digital technologies and skills, it has not commissioned a third-party assessment of these initiatives. In addition to carrying out an assessment, the company can also report its financial and in-kind contributions to its programmes.
Safaricom has an opportunity to commission third-party assessments for its skills development programmes. These assessments can help the company and its stakeholders better understand programme outcomes and identify areas of strengths and improvements.
Safaricom has an opportunity to assign clear responsibilities and roles for cybersecurity management, as well as make its information security certification publicly available. The company can also report the number of data breaches it experiences and the government requests it receives for user information.
Given the scope of the company’s operations, it has an opportunity to demonstrate leadership by more clearly indicating support for open innovation. Safaricom can also disclose how it considers ethics in product development, particularly in relation to artificial intelligence (AI).
Core Social Assessment
The core social indicators assess societal expectations of business conduct that companies should meet if they aspire to be part of a system transformation that leaves no one behind.
Safaricom has a grievance mechanism that allows workers to raise human rights concerns and complaints. However, it does not have a public commitment to respect human rights or the ILO core labour rights. Furthermore, the company does not have a public commitment requiring its business relationships to commit to respecting all the ILO core labour rights. Safaricom also does not disclose a process to identify, assess and act on the salient human rights risks in its own operations and in its business relationships, nor does it disclose whether it engages with potentially affected stakeholders. There is also no grievance channel for external stakeholders to raise human right concerns and complaints.
Safaricom commits to respecting worker health and safety and expects the same from its business relationships. However, it does not disclose quantitative information on health and safety, such as work-related injuries. The company does not specify that it does not require workers to work more than the regular and overtime hours. It also does not disclose the percentage of its workforce covered by collective bargaining agreements. Further, Safaricom provides no relevant evidence in relation to paying its workers a living wage, or in relation to whether it supports its business relationships in paying their workers a living wage. With more than 30% women on its highest governance body, Safaricom is committed to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. However, it does not disclose time-bound targets on the subject or information on gender-based remuneration. In relation to workforce diversity, the company discloses information on gender diversity, but it has an opportunity to disclose employee numbers for more indicators of diversity, such as age group.
Safaricom has anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies and includes corresponding clauses in its business relationship contracts. It also describes the processes it takes to identify its bribery and corruption risks and impacts in specific locations or activities covering its own operations. However, it does not have a global publicly available privacy statement in relation to collecting, sharing and accessing personal data, nor a global tax strategy. Additionally, Safaricom does not disclose its approach to lobbying and political engagement. Specifically, the company has no public statement indicating that it does not make political contributions, and it does not disclose its lobbying expenditures.