Safaricom Gets Approval to Launch M-Pesa in Ethiopia
By Adedapo Adesanya
M-Pesa, the Kenyan mobile money service, will expand into Ethiopia as the country moves to open up its telecommunications industry.
At the national launch of Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia (STE) in the capital Addis Ababa yesterday, Ethiopia’s Finance Minister, Mr Ahmed Shide, disclosed that the mobile money platform had received approval to roll out its services across the country.
He noted that Safaricom would be allowed to acquire permits of operation and license for M-Pesa services from the central bank following the approval.
The license permits the telecom giant to operate in the country for 15 years. Safaricom will also operate under its original name in offering mobile money services.
M-Pesa, which operates via SMS phone messaging and offers the ability to make deposits and send and receive payments, is expected to compete with state-owned Ethio Telecom service “Telebirr”, which attracted up to 4 million users in a short period after it launched its mobile financial services last year.
The latest news that Safaricom will be offering mobile money services in the country is a significant milestone for the government’s liberalisation agenda.
As part of the reforms, international telecoms businesses have been allowed to set up shop in Ethiopia, including Kacha Digital Financial Services, which became the first private company in the East African nation to be awarded a mobile money license by the National Bank of Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is an opportunistic market where the company plans to offer the M-Pesa service once regulatory approval is received.