Safaricom, a Kenyan mobile network provider, has become the first private operator in Ethiopia, one of the major telecoms markets in Africa.
About half of Safaricom’s yearly revenue currently comes from its M-Pesa mobile money transfer business, which was the first of its kind when it was launched 15 years ago.
After successful network testing in 10 different cities, Safaricom Ethiopia turned on its service and network in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia’s Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide said that his country has authorized Safaricom to run a mobile money business by granting them a license to do so.
Anwar Soussa, CEO of Safaricom Ethiopia, said it would take two to three months to launch the mobile money service.
By April 2023, 14 more cities would be included in the national network rollout, according to Safaricom Ethiopia.
According to Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom, “We are excited about how the technology and connectivity we are offering can contribute to a digital future and ultimately alter people’s lives.”
William Ruto, the president of Kenya, who was present for the event, stated that the mobile money license had not yet been decided when he left Nairobi.
Ruto stated he “had a mission to come back with a deal.”
Ethiopia’s state-owned Ethio Telecom has had a monopoly up until this point.
After Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assumed office in 2018, the government made plans to partially privatize Ethio Telecom, but in March it announced that it had chosen to put the process on hold due to economic difficulties.