(Ecofin Agency) - Safaricom officially launched in Ethiopia in October last year. However, the company does not yet offer mobile money services in the country, as the telecom license it acquired in July 2021 does not cover digital payments.
Telecom operator Safaricom is finalizing technical and commercial preparations for its M-Pesa digital payment service in the Ethiopian market, Anwar Soussa, chief executive officer of Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia (STE), said recently. The service is expected to be launched in the next financial year, which begins in April, we learn.
The announcement comes four months after Safaricom Ethiopia was approved to operate its mobile payment platform in Ethiopia. The approval from Addis Ababa allowed the operator to begin the process of obtaining a mobile payment service provider license from the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), which recently set a licensing fee of $150 million for mobile money services.
The launch of M-Pesa is expected to accelerate Safaricom's growth and introduce competition to Ethiopia's mobile money sector, which is currently dominated by incumbent operator Ethio Telecom's Telebirr service (Launched in May 2021, the platform attracted four million users in a matter of weeks and currently has more than 28.2 million users).
"Our growth trajectory is even more exciting for us as we look forward to offering financial services through M-PESA. [...] With a population of approximately 120 million people and financial inclusion at about 35%, 57% mobile penetration, and annual inward remittance of about $4.2 billion, Ethiopia offers a great opportunity to grow the business to the Kenyan level in 10 years," said Anwar Soussa.
Isaac K. Kassouwi