Nigerians might lose access to USSD transactions if banks continue to owe telcos

December 29, 2022
3 min read


Safaricom Ethiopia has activated its network and services in Hawassa, Assela, Jigjiga, Sodo, and Dilla, bringing its network coverage to 21 cities.

New customers can now purchase SIM cards for 30 birr ($0.56), select their preferred numbers, purchase airtime, and access customer support at Safaricom Ethiopia shops in these cities.

Following its October 2022 launch, Safaricom Ethiopia said it had generated 42.76m birr ($797,565m) in revenue in November.


Here’s what I’ve got for you today: 

  • Nigerians might stop using USSD for transactions
  • Kenya to provide 5,000 government services in the country

Nigerians might stop using USSD for transactions


The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has announced that as of November 2022, banks owe telcos ₦80 billion ($179.1m) in Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) fees.

Consequently, if Nigerian banks fail to settle these debts, telcos could withdraw USSD services.

Banks use USSD to deliver financial services to everyone, especially the underserved and financially excluded with no Internet data connectivity.

Slightly long backstory; In 2019, telcos informed banks that they would no longer provide USSD services for free and wanted to collect ₦4.50k per 20 seconds from the charges paid by customers.

Banks disagreed, and so the long tussle began.

The debt to telcos increased to ₦42 billion ($94.03m) in March 2021, and they threatened to suspend USSD services.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami wrote to CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to instruct banks to pay up their debt. He also asked telcos to suspend their decision to withdraw their services.


This led to a roundtable discussion that saw banks agree to reduce USSD fees per transaction to ₦6.08, to be paid to telcos but collected by the banks.

It appears nothing has changed since then.

Adebayo said the banks’ refusal to pay would threaten the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) cashless economy agenda for the country and affect the economy.

Kenya to provide 5,000 government services in the country

free wifi

Kenya plans to provide 5,000 government services via technology platforms over the next six months.

It recently launched free WiFi at Ahero market in Kisumu County to discourage people from travelling long distances to seek services from government offices.

Ahero market is the second in the Nyanza region — following Bondo — where the government has launched free Wi-Fi to assist traders in selling and buying their wares online.

According to ICT Cabinet Secretary, Eliud Owalo, long queues at government offices in the country will be a “thing of the past” once it rolls out the services. 

But he said the first step to achieving that is providing Internet access to the entire country, a foundation for government services.

The Kenyan government intends to turn the country into a “technological hotspot" and will continue to expand Internet hotspots across the country.

According to Owalo, Internet adoption in public institutions like schools, markets, hospitals, and police stations will empower young people to leverage technology to create jobs for themselves.

According to DataReportal's Digital 2022 report, Kenya's Internet penetration rate was 42% in January 2022.

What I’m reading and watching


  • Misk Entrepreneurship has partnered with Plug and Play to launch the fourth cohort of Misk Accelerator 2023 where 20 startups will participate in the 12-week hybrid programme. Apply here.
  • The New York Times is looking for a Researcher/Reporter in Dakar, Senegal. Apply here.
  • Are you a corp member in Nigeria? Polaris Bank’s DigiCorper Programme 2023 is open. To learn data science, product management, product design, backend or frontend software development, or basic literacy skills, register here.
  •  The Eswatini Communications Commission (ESCCOM) has initiated a Girls in ICT’ Development Program, aimed at young ladies who are interested in pursuing an Information, Communications, and Technology (ICT) related profession. To apply, check this out.
  • The United Nations is seeking an Associate Programme Management Officer. Apply here.

Have a great Thursday.

Victoria Fakiya for Techpoint Africa.

She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.
She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.
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She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.

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