When it comes to mobile service providers in Kenya, Safaricom is the biggest and over the years has proved to be quite reliable. I’m a loyal customer, but when I got a dual-SIM phone ( A Samsung Galaxy Y Duos, which I will review later), I had a blank slot for an extra SIM card. After speaking to a few people, I decided to get an Orange line. I’ve used it for almost two weeks and I’ll write both the pros and cons of the network:
Orange Money and Equity Account Linking
If you already have an Equity Bank Account, you can choose for the account to be linked to Orange Money. This means I can check my balance from my phone, do money transfers to all networks, top up my airtime from my bank account etc.
There is an Orange Money VISA card on offer, meaning you can use the card for payments as you would any debit VISA card, even if you don’t have a bank account.
So I have retained my Safaricom line for voice and SMS (I still use it for data occasionally), and settled on Orange data. Their 3G is pretty consistent, something Safaricom was beginning to suck at. Safaricom 3G was so intermittent, at times you could have 0 upload and 0 download speeds! So far with Orange it has been consistent, though some areas are still not covered with 3G and you have to switch to Edge even within Nairobi ( I was kind of deep in the heart of Eastlands then )
Safaricom still has the widest 3G network in Kenya, but if you’re within Nairobi, you can be assured Orange has you covered.
Orange Internet Offers
I won’t say much but Orange has this 39bob unlimited internet per day, or weekly unlimited for Kshs 249… and other monthly unlimited offers. After a while, speeds decline when you have exhausted your fair allocation, but that should not deter you. I fear however, that they might cancel the ‘unlimited’ offer like Safaricom did.
Safaricom does have its offers too, but Orange is a bit cheaper. These offers for voice, data, sms, from telcos are many: Airtel, Yu, Safaricom, Orange. It would be fruitless to start analyzing which offers are better than the other. However, Yu still doesn’t have a 3G network so I wouldn’t consider it just yet.
Orange Kenya is the only network in Kenya that is authorized to provide mobile network service to iPhones. Not sure if they take advantage of this to market themselves though.
I don’t know who Orange have outsourced their customer care to, but it sounds like a small cubicle down River Road. It’s noisy and I can hear the other agents talking away and typing on their laptops.
Secondly, I think they need better training. While I’m used to the impeccable accents of Safaricom customer care center, you can hear the Orange agents stumbling through the words “Welcome to Orange customer care, how may I help you?”. It just doesn’t cut a very professional image.
I called about an Orange Money issue, and was told to call a toll-free number 1434 for inquiries. On calling that number, it rang about 5 times without a response and I was forced to hang up. It takes a while for them to respond on their twitter account, @OrangeKenya, and to solve your issues.
Is the Telkom Kenya Mentality Letting Orange Kenya down?
Most employees that Orange Kenya has were inherited from Telkom Kenya, back when it was a government parastatal. Some government workers are known to be lazy, under-worked and overpaid! Orange Kenya has been making losses these past two years, though the margin of loss has been dropping. Orange Kenya is still overstaffed though, and I think they’re still working on getting rid of a few more people despite massive retrenchments in the past.
Issues like fixing a landline, or a 3G sub-station that has been down for a while can take even months to fix!
So far, I’m enjoying my Orange data experience. Here’s to a peaceful co-existence with my Safaricom line.