The news :
- Safaricom-led consortium has secured a licence to launch mobile money services — M-Pesa — in Ethiopia.
- The telco paid $150 million to the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) to secure the licence.
- It is expected to roll out mobile money services before the end of the year.
Safaricom's mobile money service, M-Pesa, is set to increase its 52.4 million users as it has gotten a licence to roll out the service in Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous nation.
M-Pesa is one of Africa's largest mobile money operators, run by Vodafone and Kenyan telecommunications company, Safaricom.
Safaricom became the first private telecoms operator in Ethiopia after it launched in the country in 2022, it now competes with state-owned Ethio Telecom, which has 54 million subscribers in a country of 118 million people.
During the launch event, Kenya's President, William Ruto, expressed confidence that Ethiopia will grant Safaricom the licence to launch its mobile money service, —M-Pesa— in a deal that has been finalised by the Kenyan president and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa.
While the licence has now been granted, it took seven months after the launch of Safaricom in Ethiopia.
M-Pesa is expected to be rolled out in the country before the end of the year.
Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom's CEO said, “as of this morning, Safaricom Ethiopia has officially been granted the licence to operate mobile money. We look forward to launching M-Pesa in the coming weeks,”
M-Pesa is now available in nine countries, including, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Lesotho, and Mozambique.
According to Statista, M-Pesa has 52.4 million users across the markets where it is operational. While this is still 16 million fewer users than the 69 million mobile money users MTN reported in March 2023, M-Pesa could be on its way to leading MTN.
In the seven months since Safaricom Ethiopia launched its telecommunications service in Ethiopia, it has already gathered three million users.
If M-Pesa replicates Kenya's success in Ethiopia, then it could be on its way to surpassing MTN in terms of mobile money dominance.