Hard and tough lessons from the current mpesa outage

Oct 28, 2012 1 Comment by

Mpesa is a Tool. Not a means or an end

Today, I will use the word ‘hard’ in a very somber way. Ohh, it is a sad day for Kenya. Our motherland. And also for the few Mpesa users in our neighboring developing and non-developing countries like TZ and UG.

Safaricom is not executing the 8400 Mpesa transactions. No. Not today. Kenya GDP has dropped by 0.0023 percent. Give or take. KRA has lost well over 100M in revenues today. Give or take.

I will go on. Chippoz have had to take the Kenyan walk-of-shame bila fare. Mpesa haiwork. I can think of at least 4 people who called me at various clubs last night to rush there and physically pay their bills. They have 50k on Mpesa but could not pay their 11k bill. Mpesa was done. And no one can give you cash unless they see a confirmation message on their phones.

The story

So, as usual, I went to Qz yesterday at 9pm. I will not delve into how I was dressed since this is not a Nigerian movie, or talk about my shoes because I do not want to depress you. Ati Salim anaringa. Na ni ukweli tu anasema.

So I reach Qz on time, park in my reserved parking, then itishiad a few rounds for my buddies. I had only 2k on me, but si I have Mpesa. So I relaxed. Amar challenged me to a 2-set race to 10 for 5k. The game ended 4-5 and the second one 5-4. No winner. A draw. So I did not have much to pay at the pool table.

1230am. Bill kujas and I smile, since it just amounted to 1/6th of what I had on Mpesa. Anne asks whether I am using a card, cash or Mpesa. I do not carry alot of cash or ATM Cards since I am relaxed. We have Mpesa. So she gives me the Till number and after I send the scrilla via Mpesa, I get the message talking about “Mpesa experiencing delays”.

Arrgh! this is normal on weekends. Mpesa always works at 60% efficiency. I needed to leave in a hurry, so I told Anne that I will pay from wherever I was “mpesa ikiamka”.

Yes. Fuck! Upto now, Mpesa has not amkad. Still humping AuntieSuzie. Anne is in deep trouble for creating a ‘short’. My name and credibility and credit ratings are affected since I am that jamaa who “hepad na bill”.

Now, I am sure this is child-play compared to what happened to you and/or friends last night. Share in the comment section, Be-Low!!

The lessons

Simple and succinct:

  • Mpesa is a system. Systems go down. Toa pesa mapema or carry cash. Leave the cash in the car and only use it when you cannot pay via Mpesa.
  • Beba ATM.
  • Don’t put too much money on Mpesa. Use Mpesa as a transfer carrier. Not as a savings account. What happens today if the data cannot be retrieved from the DEAD mpesa disks? How much can you lose without going insane?

I just ask myself. Why wasn’t the Mpesa data saved in the Safaricom cloud?

Didn’t they have a setup where Mpesa had a hot-spare? Whatever happened to replication? High-availability? Redundancy? Of-site mirror?

Back to code.


Coding, Personal

About the author

Coder, hacker, inventor, pool guru.

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