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Kenyan start-up Wingu loses Safaricom contract to South Africa’s Gemalto.

04.10.13_technewsrprt_img_stories_regina-timothy_wingu-safaricom

Kenya’s Safaricom has cancelled its phonebook data back-up contract with software company Wingu Technologies in favor of Gemalto Limited, a South African firm that was already providing a similar service to other players in the market.

Safaricom had entered into the agreement with Kenya’s Wingu Technologies last year but in March this year they rescinded the contract because Wingu’s platform had failed to meet its expectation.

Gemalto, the South African firm, will now offer the service which allows storage of personal data from SIM cards in external servers that are accessed via the Internet on what is commonly known as cloud computing. Subscribers will also be able to retrieve lost data by logging their profiles on the cloud in the event their SIM card gets damaged or lost.

Safaricom, the leading mobile provider in Kenya with more than 18 million subscribers, says it replaces an average of 5.4 million SIM cards annually, a number that provides a good business case for the new offering. They will charge an annual fee of Kes 52 to access the back-up platform and Kes 25 for data retrieval, targeting to rake in millions of shillings from the service.

Wingu Technologies  introduced the phonebook back-up in 2011 with an intention to offer the service independently, however, the company later changed the model and decided to partner with mobile operators and charge them a license fee to use the platform. Apart from phonebook back-up, the company which employs 40 employees, also offers e-commerce payment platforms in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa markets.

It will be interesting to see if other mobile operators in Kenya who had expressed interest in the service will pursue the same.

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