Safaricom: Harnessing the power of APIs to transform lives in Africa

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Editors note: Today we hear from Calestor Kizito Magero, Safaricom’s API product development manager of M-PESA, the company’s mobile payment platform. Learn how Safaricom, the largest telecommunications provider in Kenya, uses Apigee to simplify how it integrates its mobile services with partners.

Safaricom holds the distinction of being the largest telecommunications services provider in Kenya, but we’re aiming for an even loftier goal: empowering Kenyans with tools for economic growth. From venture capital investments in local startups to our commitment to United Nations (UN) sustainability goals, we prioritize the mission of transforming lives in our country.

A key part of this mission is M-PESA, our mobile payment solution. M-PESA enables money transfers and lending, and empowers Kenyans to manage their finances by transforming their mobile phones into a personal bank branch. Partners can integrate with the service via APIs that are exposed via the Apigee API management platform.

Integrating with partners wasn’t always as fast and efficient as it is now, though. Our previous channel had proven tedious, expensive, and time consuming, and we dealt with a lot of customer complaints and dissatisfaction. We had to create separate network connections for each partner to maintain security for our customers.

We couldn’t develop APIs on the gateway layer, meaning that development had to be done on our core services. To do testing, we had to send requests manually to developers, which wasn’t feasible when we reached a scale of more than 100 integrations. We knew that the continued success of M-PESA hinged on finding a faster, easier, and more secure way to expose our APIs and get them integrated with partners’ offerings.

A key reason we chose Google Cloud’s Apigee API Platform was the ability it provides to securely expose any API, whether external or internal. We also appreciated the platform’s configurability. With Apigee, it became easier to develop and deploy APIs from start to finish in just a few hours, along with necessary error handling and logs. Off-the-shelf tools like Apigee Trace and the platform’s proxy building capability make API management very easy, and we value its ability to scale with us as the number of APIs we offer grows. Our implementation partner Abacus Consulting played a key role in evaluating Apigee and helping Safaricom implement the platform.

Deploying Apigee has enabled our partners to easily integrate our M-PESA mobile payment solution. This has opened up our ecosystem to 4,500 partners and counting, ranging from startups to large enterprises. We now feel confident in being able to privately and more securely expose our APIs, which now take as little as a week to develop and publish. We have also added a valuable commercial aspect to our digital strategy thanks to the monetization feature in Apigee, which is contributing 11% of our B2B and B2C revenue at the beginning of 2019.

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