Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

FinTech

Is M-Pesa Heading to Ethiopia?

Article Image
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.

M-Pesa is a trusted service for money transfers, payments and banking services that is offered in 10 countries and used by more than 30 million people (including more than 20 million in Kenya alone): The service enables more than 6 billion transactions per year. (See M-PESA Awarded GSMA Mobile Money Certification for Operational Excellence and M-Pesa Reaches the Big One-O.)

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.)

Introducing M-Pesa into Ethiopia would also tie in with the stated plans of Vodacom and Safaricom to expand the M-Pesa empire into new markets across Africa. (See Vodacom to Buy Safaricom Stake in €2.36B Deal.)

If Safaricom is able to strike such a deal with Ethiopia it would be not only positive for the Kenyan operator but also something of a blow for other mobile finance players that would be keen to build a position as a trusted technology partner to the Ethiopian government and Ethio Telecom. (See Huawei, WorldRemit Team on Mobile Money in Africa, Ruckus Lines Up Assets Ahead of Arris Sale and MTN Uganda's MoKash Service Tops 2.5M Users in Just 1 Year.)

It would also be bad news for M-BIRR, an existing mobile payments player in Ethiopia that has about 2 million users and which received funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB) earlier this year.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading for Connecting Africa.

Innovation hub

Story

Hot startup of the month: Pan-African fintech KamaPay

This month's hot startup is pan-African fintech KamaPay, which helps individuals and businesses make cross-border payments on the continent.

Story

Afretec awards $3.3M in grants to African research teams

The African Engineering and Technology Network (Afretec) has awarded grants worth $300,000 each to 11 university research teams across Africa to advance digital technologies.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Flash poll

All polls

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

Story

Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.

Story

Survey: Opportunities for Women in Tech

Take our new survey for women across Asia, Europe and Africa looking at the biggest challenges and opportunities for women-led enterprises and trends in tech careers for women.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

London Tech Week
June 13-16, 2023
Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London SW1P 3EE
Cybertech Africa 2023
August 1-2, 2023
Kigali Convention Center, Kigali, Rwanda
Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
November 13-16, 2023
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: February 2023

By Omdia Analysts

In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

Story

Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up