Well, the last time I heard the phrase “explain this to me like I’m a 2 year old kid” was on radio, back when I was using Matts. Router 44. Classic FM used to be (still is) the de facto radio station for people who can’t afford private transport.
The repeated and copy-pasted ‘jokes’ from Mwalimu King’ang’i, so dry that they always reminded me of the cheap Wigs at Black-D. The ‘marital/relationship advise’ from Minor Ka-gay-ni, the chief back-tackler who has a masters in reverse engineering and boot-sector configurations.
So appealing they are to Class-4 dropouts that 80% of matt drivers are, that one was forced to listen to that crap for an hour in jam. Daily. Unbearable.
Why people listen to such madness appalled me. But that is not the only thing that appalls me.
So, I get/find myself in a situation where I need a copy of my Mpesa records for one year+.
I go to Junction and the people at the Safaricom Customer-service desk, after tossing me around from one counter to the next, finally tell me, we can only give you 3 months transactions. “Why?”, I ask. I am Salim. I always seek explanations when things are illogical and idiotic. “That is the company policy. We only have the last 3 months”. It totaled 18 pages.
So I talk to some friends at Safcom and they manage to get my 1-year+ records. But to get them, in SOFT COPY, I had to pay KSHS 25 per page. How now?
So, I start to think of it as a techie. Ofcourse, we know. Mpesa is a monolithic dinosaur epitomized by bad interface design and poor database setup. But it works. But some mathematics are in order.
Early 2012 figures. Mpesa averages 224 transactions per second, with the average transaction value being around KSHS 1,080. It is a 24-hour system, ofcourse, Most of the traffic is seen on a average of 16 hours a day. That is at most 12,902,400 transactions per day (224*3600*16). Simple maths. Twendelee?
Now, Each Mpesa gets a confirmation message with a MAX length of ONE SMS. This is precisely 140 octets (140 octets = 140 * 8 bits = 1120 bits).
Bits. Not Bytes. Then there is the DB entry for the transaction data. MAX record size of this (factoring DB indexes and relations) is 3 times. So per transaction, Safaricom would get 4, 480 bits of data to store (with data duplication). This is 57,802,752,000 bits of data PER DAY. In terms of Bytes, this is a measly 54.83 MBs of new data per day (57,802,752,000÷1,024÷1,024÷1,024).
My Ngwati Hard-disk can handle this rate of data growth for 53.8 years before it gets full.
Mpesa has no Images, Videos (or any binary data). It is just text.
So, what is the problem?
So, when you do a cost analysis of getting me 1 year Mpesa records, someone who does an average of 12 transactions per week (Less than 700 records), it really does now make sense.
My 3-months statement was coming to 18 pages. Ofcourse, I can assume 40% of each page is taken up by Safaricom Logo and the Go-Green declarations. Maybe in font-size 28 pia. Ndio pages ziwe mob. All that 3 month data should easily fit in 2 pages.
And this is what ANNOYS me about Kenyan Telcos. Well, the employees.
Instead of focusing on INNOVATIVE ways of making money, they focus on SQUEEZING revenues from non-solutions. Charging for SMS Sender IDs, Charging for Statements (which ALL banks give for FREE nowadays, unless you want certified) etc. Kindergarten lethargic strategies.
Are we at the END_OF_LIFE in terms of telco solutions?
I PAY for mpesa transactions. Why do I need to pay for my records. Soft copy for that matter. Do emails cost nowadays?
I cannot wait for for the next time I am going clubbing and the waitress tells me: “Salim, we will charge you KSHS 25 per item to show you your bill.”. Sharaap!
Back to code.