New airtime advance service from Orange

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

Orange Botswana has come up with another first, this time it has introduced a new service in which the company's prepaid customers can call and use data services even when they have run out of airtime. 

According to Orange Offers and Devices Manager, Lebogang Moruti, the service is a first for any cellphone network provider in Botswana. Dubbed Mpharanyetse Airtime, its is now available. “The service advances qualifying prepaid customers with up to P10 airtime that is then deducted from their accounts when next they recharge.”

However, the service comes with a surcharge, says Moruti. “Customers will be charged P2 every time they use the service. Even so, the service will come in handy when customers need emergency airtime, especially when they are in a place where it is hard to get airtime.” Orange Botswana CEO, Elizabeth Medou-Badang, said to qualify for the product, a customer would have to have been a registered and active Orange prepaid subscriber for at least three months.

In order to check if you qualify for Mpharanyetse, you simply dial *129# on your cellphone, and then follow instructions from Orange. Fears of truant users abound but Medou-Badang said they had taken facility abusers into account. The dominant fear is that there might be a risk of customers just signing up to use the service and thereafter getting off their Orange SIM cards. "The risk exists, but we are willing to take it because we trust our customers," she said.

Mpharanyetse is the latest offering from Orange in a country where a tug of war for customers is heating daily among the country’s three mobile service providers.

Earlier this year, Orange introduced Orange Money, a phone-based financial service that allows subscribers to carry out simple banking operations such as deposits, withdrawals and money transfers from one mobile phone to another mobile phone. Another service provider, Mascom immediately introduced My Zaka also known as Mascom Money during the same period.

In June, Orange unveiled its new tagline “Today changes with Orange”, establishing itself as a digital coach for all. Orange aims to be the operator which democratizes access to the digital future, in line with its global “conquests 2015″ project    “Today changes with Orange” reflects the company’s commitment to making digital life easier for its customers each day.

“Today changes with Orange” therefore highlights all the commercial or institutional initiatives, small or large, which are changing the lives of customers each day. Elisabeth Medou-Badang Chief Executive Officer of Orange said then. “Over and above Orange’s commitment to its customers, this tagline also expresses the change, which Orange is making for its staff, and more generally the change as the whole company evolves”.

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