The Ethiopian government has switched up a national payment law to pave the way for Safaricom to launch its popular M-Pesa mobile money platform in the country.
The East African reported, Ethiopia’s central bank has drafted a bill that enables foreign companies to launch mobile money services, a move that benefits Safaricom which recently became the first foreign investor to be granted a mobile licence (for US$850m), however, this does not cover mobile money.
Safaricom connects over 51 million customers to financial services through its M-Pesa platform across seven countries in Africa. There is certainly demand for mobile money in Ethiopia as state-owned Ethio Telecom launched its Telebirr platform in May last year, and has reached over 17.6 million subscribers with a cumulative transaction value of ETB12.58 billion (US$245.2 million).
The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) will reportedly announce its bill next week.
NBE head of payment settlement Marta Hailemariam said: “So far, there is no law that enables foreign operators like M-Pesa to acquire a licence in Ethiopia. If the new amendment is approved, it will allow M-Pesa to get a licence in Ethiopia.”
Ethiopia is currently under a programme to open up its telecoms sector to spur growth by rapidly digitising its economy.
Mobile money has become an integral tool for citizens of developing nations, relying on platforms to carry out daily duties such as bill payments and making purchases. The GSMA said in its latest mobile money report, that the mobile money sector has hit a milestone of US$1 trillion in global transaction values, and it is increasingly becoming integral to growth for B2B and B2C operations.