Kenya’s Safaricom is about to launch mobile money services in Ethiopia

Kenyan mobile network operator Safaricom is about to launch its mobile money services in Ethiopia, four months after its license was approved by the Ethiopian government.

According to Safaricom CEO Aanwar Soussa, he announced that the startup is currently finalizing plans to start operations by April 2023.

In his words, “We are completing our commercial and technical readiness and expect to begin operations in the coming fiscal year.

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“Our growth trajectory is even more exciting for us as we look forward to offering financial services through M-PESA. With a population of about 120 million people and financial inclusion of about 35%, mobile penetration of 57% and annual international remittances of about $4.2 billion, Ethiopia presents a great opportunity to take business to Kenyan levels in 10 years bring.”

Last October, Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom received approval from the Ethiopian government to launch M-pesa in the country.

During the nationwide launch of Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia (STE) in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, the country’s finance minister, Mr. Ahmed Shide, announced that the mobile money platform has received approval to offer its services nationwide.

He further noted that once approved, Safaricom would be expected to acquire operating permits and licenses for M-Pesa services from the central bank. The license allows Safaricom to operate in the country for 15 years, it will also offer mobile money services under its original name.

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Launched on March 6, 2007 by Vodafone’s Kenyan partner Safaricom, M-PESA is Africa’s leading mobile money service with more than 604,000 active agents in Egypt, Tanzania, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Egypt, Kenya, and Lesotho Mozambique.

A decade after its launch, M-Pesa has expanded to 10 countries, has 29.5 million active users and processes up to 614 million transactions per month.

M-PESA is a Safaricom product that allows users to transfer money using a mobile phone. Kenya is the first country in the world to use this service, offered in partnership between Safaricom and Vodafone. M-PESA is available to the public even if they don’t have a bank account or card.

The mobile money services offer more than 51 million customers in seven African countries a secure and affordable way to send and receive money, top up airtime, pay bills, receive salaries, get short-term credit and more.

M-Pesa is also praised for its social value as it offers opportunities for SMEs and plays a significant role in supporting sub-banks. The platform has directly transformed households as it has evolved from a simple SIM card-based money transfer application to a full-fledged financial service, offering loans and savings in partnership with local banks, as well as merchant payment services.