Exclusive: Kenya’s Safaricom taking M-Pesa to Ethiopia, sources say
By Maggie Fick, Duncan Miriri
Kenya’s Safaricom is in advanced talks with the Ethiopian government to introduce its popular M-Pesa mobile money service, a major step towards establishing a toe-hold in the market of 100 million people, two sources said on Tuesday.
M-Pesa could transform Ethiopia’s economy, as it has done in Kenya, by allowing people to sidestep a decrepit and inefficient banking system and send each other money and make payments at the touch of a button.
As such, it could bolster the bold political and economic reform drive of new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed against opposition from hardliners in the ruling EPRDF coalition.
Started in 2007, M-Pesa has around 20 million active users in Kenya and has become the principal driver of profit growth for the dominant telecoms provider in East Africa as revenue from traditional voice and text services has flattened off.
Photo courtesy of Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion.