President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked Ethiopia Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed and his government to consider opening up mobile money market to investment opportunities following the liberalization of the country’s telecommunications market.
The President who witnessed the issuance of mobile telecommunications licence to Safaricom-led Global Partnership for Ethiopia (GPE) consortium in Adds Ababa on Tuesday said mobile money stands to enhance Ethiopia’s financial just like it has done in Kenya which currently has 32.5 million active registered mobile money subscribers and 264,390 active mobile money agents as at December 2020.\
“Having witnessed first-hand in Kenya what mobile financial services can do in the transformation of the lives of citizens and a country’s economy, I am hopeful that your Government will consider, in the near future, opening up the opportunity for mobile money in Ethiopia. This move will be particularly timely, as it will offer the millions of Ethiopian people avenues for financial inclusion,” said President Kenyatta.
Ethio Telecom is currently the only operator of mobile money service in a country with 112 million people.
President Kenyatta added, “studies have shown that enhanced access to mobile financial services, have a great potential to reduce poverty as more people are enabled easier and safer savings and in effect, greatly influencing the kind of choices they make in life,”
Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa had earlier indicated that the telco targets to leverage on its M-pesa success in Kenya to gain a foothold in the Ethiopian market after acquiring the telco license for $850 million (Kshs. 92 billion) through a bidding processes.
“Ethiopian authorities recently confirmed that a new licensee will be allowed to operate mobile money within the next 12 months. Of course that needs to be confirmed in writing, but that is good progress,” said Ndegwa in May after the announcement.
GPE plans to roll out data, voice and SMS in Ethiopia next year after.
According to President Kenyatta, mobile money market also stands a chance of bridge existing gender disparities in Ethiopia.
“Women, have particularly been empowered by these services, and are now able to participate meaningfully in the economy, alongside men. This is an area we must devote our collective efforts as we usher in the digital economy.”
In the full year ending 31st March, Safaricom earned Kshs. 82.6 billion in revenue from M-pesa which declined -2.1% year-on-year due to COVID-19.