Safaricom has officially launched its commercial activities in Ethiopia. The company’s offering includes voice, data, SMS and, soon, mobile money services.
Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia (STE) will be able to provide mobile financial services through its M-Pesa mobile money platform in Ethiopia in addition to mobile phone services. To this effect, the company obtained the approval of the Ethiopian government on Thursday, October 6 during the national launching ceremony of its commercial activities in the country.
This approval should notably enable Safaricom to take steps to obtain the mobile payment service provider license from the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE).
Safaricom acquired Ethiopia’s first private telecom license in July 2021. The said license does not include mobile money services, in particular because Ethiopian law did not allow foreign investors to operate in the Ethiopian financial sector. It was only last April that the NBE announced a bill that will amend the Payments Act to allow foreign investors to offer mobile money services in the Ethiopian telecom market.
In the mobile money segment of the Ethiopian telecoms market, M-Pesa will notably compete with Telebirr from the incumbent operator Ethio Telecom. Launched in May 2021, the platform attracted four million users within weeks and currently has over 21 million users. The introduction of M-Pesa is expected to bring more competition, renewed innovation in value-added services, improved quality of service as well as additional revenue for the state.