Kenya's Safaricom is about to strike a deal with Ethiopia's government to help introduce the M-Pesa mobile money and banking service to the country's population of more than 100 million, according to a report from Reuters.
According to the trusted news service, which cited anonymous sources within Kenya's telecoms sector, Safaricom is in talks to license the M-Pesa brand to an Ethiopian bank but host the M-Pesa platform servers in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. Ethiopia's state-owned national telco Ethio Telecom, which has more than 58 million mobile customers, would then offer the service to mobile users.
Bringing the service to Ethiopia, where only about 20% of the population has access to traditional banking services, would be positive for the country's new president Abiy Ahmed, according to Reuters. It would also provide Safaricom and its parent companies, Vodafone and South Africa's Vodacom, a head's start over other communications service providers when Ethiopia's communications market is liberalized, a move that has already been anticipated. Other operators, including MTN, have expressed an interest in the Ethiopian market. (See Ethiopia to Split National Telco, Sell Stakes.)
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