On March 24, Safaricom subscribers took it to Twitter to show off a subtle but unexpected change to the telco’s network name. Instead of the usual “Safaricom” network name, users were now seeing the message “SAFCOM STAY SAFE”.
From the tweets, users seemed pleased by the subtle message which encouraged Kenyans to stay safe as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.
SAFARICOM 4G is now, SAFCOM STAY SAFE 😅.. anyway sanitize and wash your hands.. pic.twitter.com/msDGP9qiQp
— Schatz ❣️ (@chugi_v) March 24, 2020
Safaricom are also reminding you to stay safe. Keep indoors, clean your hands/devices and keep safe distance.
They have changed their network name. 👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/Xah4TuQLdo
— Msupa M (@Mollage_) March 24, 2020
Safaricom reminds you.Stay safe and follow the safety measures pic.twitter.com/jm1SQxxnNm
— Bianc C ♚ (@tedykel) March 24, 2020
— your online fundiKE🇰🇪🇹🇿 (@modernbuildsKE) March 24, 2020
Doesn’t Work on Android
It was also clear that only iPhone users were getting the subtle message, maybe due to Android’s limitation of how many characters can be shown as the network name.
If you are on Android, no matter how many times you restart your phone, you will not get the message to display. However, there’s a possible workaround which involves manually editing the network display name from your phone’s settings but that might not work for all phone models:
Wanted to make a video for Android people like us who haven't seen their Phones display "Safaricom Stay Safe". Then realised argh 😂 pic.twitter.com/rddhnOYKxS
— Dickson Otieno (@DicksonOtieno) March 24, 2020
It’s Not Just Kenya
While Kenyans were getting excited over the Stay Safe message and a few of them ranting as to why they can’t see the message (blame your Android phone), other people across the world reported getting similar messages.
From Nigeria to India, Turkey, Germany, UAE, Belgium and Iran. The messages outside Kenya, however, encourage people to stay home and not just to stay safe. There are also reports that TV stations in France are showing a similar message at the top right corner of the screen.
ht Jannis Korner pic.twitter.com/IR197yCmvw
— Matt Navarra | 🚨 #StayAtHome (@MattNavarra) March 24, 2020
With calls for a lockdown in Kenya mounting from the political class and a section of Kenyans, concerns on the impact of such a lockdown to the economy are worrying.
Kenya’s population is largely consistent of day labourers and self-employed people who rely on day-t0-day income to keep afloat.
This could be why Safaricom is using the message “STAY SAFE” and not Stay at home. We’d like to know what you think, should Kenya be on lockdown to combat the spread of COVID-19?
CHECK OUT OUR COVID-19 COVERAGE HERE