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Ethiopia: Safaricom’s M-PESA Starts Operation

M-Pesa 2

Safaricom Ethiopia officially launched its M-PESA mobile financial services today following the receipt of a Payment Instrument Issuer License from the National Bank of Ethiopia three months ago.

Stanley Njoroge, the Interim CEO of Safaricom Ethiopia, expressed excitement about the launch, saying that M-PESA has the potential to enhance financial inclusion and improve the lives of customers. He noted that M-PESA was already a trusted and reliable platform for transactions, serving over 51 million customers across seven African countries. In Kenya, M-PESA has significantly contributed to financial inclusion, with over 90% of the adult population having access to mobile banking. Kavavu expressed optimism about replicating this success in Ethiopia and said that the company is committed to expanding M-PESA's functionality in the future. Paul Kavavu, the Interim General Manager of Safaricom M-PESA Mobile Financial Services PLC, highlighted M-PESA’s role in providing financial services to people who lack access to traditional banking services but have mobile phones.

The launch follows an extensive three-month pilot and testing phase, which ensured the technical readiness of the M-PESA platform. Key partnerships with banks were also established, and M-PESA agents were recruited, trained, and onboarded.

All customers of Safaricom Ethiopia are eligible to use M-PESA. To sign up, they can simply dial *733# on their Safaricom line, regardless of whether they are using an Android or iOS device. The M-PESA app is currently available in five languages for Android users on the Google Play Store, with an iOS version coming soon.

Ethiopia opened the door for foreign investors to invest in mobile money services when it approved a new National Payment System Proclamation in December last year. The Proclamation, Proclamation No. 1281/2022, allows foreign investors to invest in payment services which are not classified as banking services. Accordingly, foreign nationals can invest as a payment instrument issuer or a payment systems operator in Ethiopia or establish a subsidiary which will be licensed as a payment instrument issuer or payment system operator. To engage in this business, foreign investors who fulfill the eligibility requirement are required to pay a minimum paid up capital ETB 50 million in its USD equivalent and an investment protection fee, USD 150 million.

Source: Safaricom Ethiopia

Additional source: 2Merkato Archives