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How to Activate and Use Voicemail on Airtel Kenya

Voicemail is a voice service that allows callers to leave you voice messages when you’re unreachable, either due to your phone being off or when you’re in an area with poor network coverage.

Once you become reachable, the network alerts you of any new voicemails for you to listen. Thereafter, you can keep the voicemails or delete them.

Airtel Kenya provides a similar voicemail service to its customers, though it’s evident that most of its subscribers are not aware of it. Here’s how to enable and use the service.

Activate Voicemail Service

There are two ways through which you can enable the voicemail function for your Airtel Kenya line:

  • Call the number 555 or +254733105555. An automated voice will guide you on how to set up and manage your voicemail account.
  • Send an SMS with the message ‘SUB VMS‘ to the number 555. You should afterwards get a response from 555 that you’re now subscribed to voicemail
A screenshot of voicemail text messages from Airtel Kenya.
Voicemail Subscription SMS

Once activated, you can deactivate voicemail anytime by sending the message ‘UNSUB VMS‘ to 555. You’ll then get a confirmation SMS that you’ve been unsubscribed from the voice mail service.

How to Retrieve Voicemails

Once you have activated the service, your callers will no longer get the standard response whenever you are unreachable. They’ll instead be taken directly to your mailbox to leave you a voicemail.

As such, it’s a good idea to inform your frequent callers of this change lest they think something is wrong with your line.

Whenever a new a voicemail is left, you’ll get an SMS alert to check your mailbox from the number that has left you a message. To retrieve this voicemail, just call 555 or 123 or +254733105555.

A screenshot of a voicemail SMS alert.
Voicemail SMS alert

When you dial any of these numbers, you’ll be informed that there are new voicemail messages, after which it will proceed to play them from the newest to the oldest. The number that left the voicemail and at what date and time will be read at the end of each voicemail. 

How to Customize your Voicemail Account

Airtel gives you some options to customize your voicemail account. This includes:

  • Setting up a greeting
  • Setting up a password

Voicemail Greeting

The greeting option allows you to record your own voice to tell your callers to leave you a voicemail instead of using the default one from Airtel.

To set up your own greeting, call 555 or 123 or +254733105555 and choose the option to Manage Your Greeting. Follow the instructions by dialling the numbers you’ll be prompted, then record your message at the beep.

If you’re not happy with the results, you can change or remove this greeting by coming to this menu.

Voicemail Password

You can also set up a password for your voicemail account to prevent anyone from listening to your messages.

In my case, however, I realized enabling this feature didn’t have any effect; I could still access all the voicemail options, including removing the password without being prompted to enter it first. Perhaps it may be different for you, though I doubt it. 

Nevertheless, to set it up just call 555 or 123 or +254733105555 and choose the option Manage Your Password. You’ll be prompted to create your password by dialling it on the dial pad.

If you need to remove or change this password, just come back to this menu and follow the instructions.

Missed Call Alerts

A legitimate concern is what if your callers do not wish to leave you voicemails? In such situations, how do you tell who was trying to call you? In addition to this, you may want to alert them once you become reachable.

The solution to these two problems is simply to activate the missed call alert service. This service sends you an SMS informing you of any persons that tried calling you as well as alerting them that you’re now reachable.

This can act as a fail-safe or a complete alternative to the voicemail feature. Note however that if they do leave a voicemail, that will count as a call and so you won’t get the missed call alert.

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Kelvin Kathia

Kelvin Kathia is the editor of Kenyan Fix, an informational blog that helps Kenyans with solutions to everyday questions on mobile networks, government services and banking.