[blockquote right=”pull-left”] [/blockquote] The emergency times when you have to make that much-needed call or send an SMS but can’t since you are low on airtime is the reason why all the major telecos in Uganda came up with this innovative service. Beerako, Wetase, MTNXtra time and Topowa are such services for pre-paid customers of Airtel Uganda, Africell Uganda, MTN, and UTL respectively. But, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to using these services –and today, we bring you the devil in the details and explore who gives a better deal when it comes to choosing the right airtime borrowing service.
|Campaign Name||Servie Charge (%)||Amounts you can borrow||USSD||Pay Back Period|
|UTL||Topowa||10||UGX 500, 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000||*146#||90 Days|
|MTN||MTN Xtra Time||10||UGX 500, 1,000, and 1,500||*146#||90 Days|
|Africell||Wetase||12 , 9 and 6.7||UGX 500, 1,000, and 3,000||*161#||90 Days|
|Airtel||Berako||11||UGX 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000||*155#|
A summary table showing competitive advantage in airtime borrowing
Beerako, Wetase, MTNXtra time and Topowa– Does everyone see whats am seeing? Most of the time as these telcos or their ad agencies are coming up with some of these slogans and brand campaign names, they forget that however catchy it may be in our local dialect, some people prefer a more neutral nomenclature that is not focused on one language within Uganda. Seriously? Yes, we have over 50 tribes in Uganda and yes over 16% of Ugandans know or speak Luganda, some people prefer a more neutral campaign name, you can see an example of what am talking about in the tweet below in regards to one of the telecoms recent campaigns. But hey, I guess that’s the niche market, and that’s why the carriers have stuck to Luganda campaign names. Kudos to MTN for being neutral on this one. [blockquote]
Amount you can borrow
For all networks, you can borrow a minimum of UGX 500 or UGX 1,000. After that, each telco differentiates it’s self. UTL subscribers can borrow UGX 1,500 and UGX 2,000 while the highest amount you can borrow from MTN is only UGX 1,500. Africell customers have an option to borrow UGX 3,000, but for this round Airtel Uganda takes it home, with their ability to allow subscribers borrow UGX 2,000 and UGX 5,000 worth of Airtime.
To enjoy any of the airtime borrowing services, the carriers will charge you a service fee for each successful transaction of the borrowed airtime you receive. The rule of thumb is such that the service fee is always a percentage of the amount borrowed. For example, whereas all other telcos have a fixed service fee, Africell has three distinct charges (12%, 9% and 6.7%) for each amount you borrow. UTL and MTN will charge 10% while Airtel attracts 11% service charge deducted directly from the borrowed credit. For those who have time to do the math (okay we have already done it for you in the table below), you will discover that MTN and UTL have a low service fee for low amounts. Check table below for details.
Service Fee per Amount borrowed (UGX)
How to Activate
This is where we call upon UCC to standardize the USSD codes used for this service and enforce a common number for all networks. All the USSD codes used follow UCC regulations as they fall between 140-189, a range designated for other network services especially operator innovations. MTN and UTL use a common code which is *146#. To activate this service on Africell and Airtel, you will have to dial *161# and *155# respectively.
Where as Airtel doesn’t list anywhere on their website the payback period for that airtime you have borrowed, MTN, Africell and UTL expect you to have returned this borrowed airtime within a period of 3 months (90 days).
Other Specific Terms and Conditions per carrier
All MTN prepaid customers are eligible for MTN XTRA Time credit as long as they fulfill the conditions below;
- They have been on the MTN network for at least 6 months,
- They used their mobile phone within the past 90 days,
- They used airtime worth at least 10,000/- every month over the past 30 days and
- Their number has an airtime balance less than 239/- at the time of requesting Xtra Time credit.
Africell customers that are eligible to use Wetase;
- Should be an active prepaid customer that has loaded airtime of at least 5000/- in the last month
- Customers who have paid back their previous Wetaase requests
- Customers who have had an active line for 90 days or more
For UTL, customers can borrow regardless of the amount of airtime they have on their line. The borrowed amount is automatically deducted the next time a customer loads airtime or receives airtime from another number via flexi share. You can also borrow airtime even if they have a negative balance. To borrow the maximum amount to airtime, customers who have had an active line for 90 days or more
Airtel doesn’t divulge much when it comes to other terms and conditions apart from the fact that to enjoy the service, a minimum balance of 4/= or less is required.
At the end of the day, we feel that if you want to borrow huge amount of airtime up to UGX 5,000, Airtel Uganda is the network for you, but if you are borrowing small amounts of airtime, MTN and UTL do the trick as long as you can abide by the terms and conditions set by each carrier.
Image Credit: shutterstock