Numbers Game

In late November the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers announced the results of a survey of 353 East African corporate executives for its "Most Respected Company" award for 2007. The winner was the Kenyan mobile phone company, Safaricom. One of Safaricom's claims to fame is that it boasts the highest profits of any company in the region. Betty Caplan, who recounts her own unsatisfactory experience with the company's customer service, is less than impressed. "Could the highest profits in the region -- and amongst the highest on the continent -- be the result of cutting costs on customer care, and spending a lot of our hard-earned money instead on hype? And don't give me that nonsense about Corporate Social Responsibility. What they spend is the equivalent of about 5 cents to you and me and done purely to improve their image, not out of any real desire to give back to the community," she wrote.