Airtel Kenya finally adds data manager feature, but on USSD, not mobile app

Better late than never, so the saying goes. And this couldn’t have been more applicable to Airtel Kenya’s quiet addition of a data manager feature on USSD for subscribers.

Though it’s come later after its rivals unveiled the same feature – with Safaricom adding it almost 2 years ago followed by Telkom Kenya – it’s a welcome relief and addition for Airtel Kenya subscribers who have in the past seen their airtime wiped off without warning after their data subscriptions (or bundles) ran out or expired and were now accessing the internet out of bundle using their airtime. And unfortunately, subscribers were in the past never warned (or alerted) when they’re browsing the internet out of bundle using their airtime.

With the introduction of the feature, which is however only available via USSD and not the Airtel Care app, all one now needs to do is dial 5449# and then follow the prompts therein. Apparently, the feature has been available for over a month though subscribers were not notified by the telco when it was introduced.

After dialing 5449#, one has 5 options:

  1. Activate
  2. Deactivate
  3. Check Status (whether you’re already enrolled or not)
  4. # for back
  5. 0 to go go Back to the main menu

In mid April, the Airtel Care app went live, providing subscribers an alternative avenue apart from the SIM kit and USSD platforms for accessing various services on the network.

The trial version of the Airtel app had features like the Data Manager functionality being available to randomly selected subscribers for testing.

The Data Manager function has become useful for most subscribers as it enables one to only access internet services when the line has an active data bundle subscription and disconnects immediately the bundle is used up or expired. The feature thereby protects subscribers from (knowingly or unknowingly) using their airtime to access the internet when out of bundle.

The Data Manager feature was first introduced by Safaricom before Telkom also introduced the feature in 2018.

According to the latest industry figures covering the period between June to September 2019, from the regulator CA, Airtel Kenya currently has 13.12 million subscribers with over 13 million of these being pre-paid users.


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