October 7, 2022

Safaricom Ethiopia obtained mobile money service license

City: Addis AbabaTechNews

Ahmed Shide, Minister of Finance, announced that Safaricom Ethiopia is granted a license to operate a mobile money service in Ethiopia.

Avatar: Ilyas Kifle
By Ilyas Kifle

Ilyas is a reporter at Addis Zeybe experienced in creative writing and content production.

Safaricom Ethiopia obtained mobile money service license
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Credit: Addis Zeybe (from left to right, Anwar Soussa, Safaricom Ethiopia CEO; Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom PLC; Shameel Joosub, Vodacom Group CEO)

Safaricom Ethiopia, the only private telecom operator, launched a national operation in Addis Ababa and is granted a mobile money service license. 

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, President William Ruto of Kenya, Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide, and employees of Safaricom Ethiopia were in attendance at the national launching ceremony of the company held at Friendship Park on Oct 6.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide announced that Safaricom Ethiopia is granted a license to operate mobile money service in Ethiopia, which will allow the telecom operator to bring M-Pesa mobile money service. 

M-Pesa was slated to launch in Ethiopia in May, according to a February 12, 2022 article in The Exchange, a Tanzanian publication. "We expect Safaricom to begin their M-Pesa operations this year and anticipate the economic revolution that the money transfer services would have in ours," said the State Minister of Finance and Ph.D. Eyob Tekelign, as mentioned in the article.

In April of this year, Safaricom Ethiopia’s Public Relations & Communications Manager Tewedaj Eshetu told Addis Zeybe in an exclusive interview that the operator is waiting for the revision of the National Bank of Ethiopia’s directive to launch M-Pesa in Ethiopia.

According to Regulation of Mobile and Agent Banking Services’ Directives No. FIS /01/2012, only financial institutions that are licensed by the National Bank are allowed to engage in mobile banking services and shall be carried out only within the geographical boundary of Ethiopia.

Kacha digital financial service S.C became the first private company to be granted a mobile money service license in Ethiopia when it obtained the authorization in August.

Credit: Addis Zeybe

Safaricom Ethiopia will allow customers to use 4G data service, voice, and SMS services between Safaricom Ethiopia and Ethio telecom in addition to international calls via its networks switched on in Ethiopian cities. 

Safaricom Ethiopia CEO Anwar Soussa, in the media briefing held earlier from the national launching ceremony, said the quality of the mobile network and customer services are the unique values that made his company special from the competitor.    

The CEO added, “our experience on the pilot launches in the eastern part of Ethiopia shows the network is great and exciting. We expect more pleasure from Addis Ababa”. 

Safaricom Ethiopia said that it has made investments totaling $1 billion (including the Telecoms license fee), established its core network, IT, goods, and services, imported equipment worth over $300 million, created two data centers, and made various managerial and staffing preparations. The CEO also underlined that the ongoing investment will continue.

Shameel Joosub, Vodacom Group CEO [member of Safaricom Ethiopia] stated at the launching ceremony, “our telecom operator will be the largest foreign direct investment in Ethiopia after some years”.

Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom PLC told the media, “as soon as we get the license to operate mobile financial service, we will announce which services we would provide”. 

M-Pesa, mobile money, payments, and micro-financing service launched in 2007 by Vodafone (from South Africa) and Safaricom (from Kenya), offers portable cross-border monetary benefits that promote territorial integration.

It delivers practical cash-sending and receiving services throughout the region, enabling clients to receive money in the currency of their home nation.

Addis Ababa is the 11th city where Safaricom Ethiopia’s ‘07’ network kicked off. The company yearns to reach 14 additional cities in the coming seven months.