Safaricom has launched its mobile money service, M-PESA, in Ethiopia. This move comes three months after obtaining a Payment Instrument Issuer Licence from the National Bank of Ethiopia.
The three months saw M-PESA complete a demanding three-month pilot and testing phase, complete technical readiness, secure significant bank partnerships, and hire, train, and onboard M-PESA agents.
A report in July stated that Safaricom would roll out M-PESA in Ethiopia by September 2023 to help increase revenue from its Ethiopian operations and support its goal of turning a profit by 2027.
The cost of launching operations in Ethiopia caused Safaricom’s core earnings to decline by 5% in the year ending March. Ethio Telecom, whose profits more than doubled in its most recent fiscal year, is another fierce competitor for the company. For its mobile money service, Telebirr, the Ethiopian telco reported having over 34 million subscribers as of July.
Customers can pay for goods and services, purchase airtime, transfer money to their bank accounts, send money from their bank accounts to their M-PESA, and receive money domestically and internationally using the mobile money service.
Since the Kenyan telco launched in Ethiopia in 2022, over 2 million active users have signed up for Safaricom’s voice and data network.
Safaricom Ethiopia customers can use M-PESA services by dialing *733# on their Safaricom line on both Android and iOS devices. The app is currently prepared in five languages for Android devices and is accessible via the Google Play store; it will be made available for IOS devices in the upcoming weeks.
In 2007, the telco launched M-PESA in Kenya and is available in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania.
Safaricom Ethiopia announced on August 7, 2023, that it would receive $257.4 million (KSh36.8 billion) in World Bank Group funding to support the telco’s greenfield telecommunications projects.
Besides, the telco shut down its sites in Amhara, Ethiopia’s second-largest region, two weeks ago. It came after the federal government declared a six-month state of emergency in the area on August 4, 2023, due to a crisis between the military and the Fano militia, a part-time militia with no formal command structure.