Safaricom Ethiopia nears M-Pesa launch

06 March 2023

Safaricom is finalizing its technical and commercial preparation to launch its digital payment service M-Pesa on the Ethiopian market. Safaricom Ethiopia is expected to launch M-Pesa operations in its next fiscal year, which begins in April.

The announcement comes four months after Safaricom Ethiopia secured approval from the Ethiopian government to operate its mobile money platform in Ethiopia. With the approval of Addis Ababa, the company could take steps to obtain the mobile payment service provider license from the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE). The latter recently proposed licensing fees of $150 million for private telecom operators’ mobile money services.

The launch of M-Psea is expected to introduce competition to the mobile money segment of the Ethiopian telecoms market, currently dominated by Ethio Telecom’s Telebirr. Launched in May 2021, the platform attracted four million users within weeks and currently has over 28.2 million users. The launch of M-Pesa is also expected to accelerate Safaricom’s growth in Ethiopia.

“Our growth trajectory is even more exciting for us as we look forward to offering financial services through M-Pesa. With a population of around 120 million people and financial inclusion of around 35%, mobile penetration of 57% and annual inbound remittances of around $4.2 billion, Ethiopia offers great opportunity to grow the business to Kenyan level in 10 years,” said Anwar Soussa, CEO of Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia (STE).