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President Uhuru sells Mpesa to Ethiopians

By Winfrey Owino | June 8th 2021
Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta. [Courtesy]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged the Ethiopian government to adopt mobile money transfer methods as its economy undergoes digital transformation.

Speaking during the award ceremony of the telecommunications license to the global partnership for Ethiopia consortium in Addis Ababa today, President Uhuru said if fully exploited, mobile money (M-Pesa) will improve the living standards of people.

“I am hopeful that your government will consider, in the near future, opening up the opportunity for mobile money in Ethiopia. This move will be particularly timely, as it will offer the millions of Ethiopian people avenues for financial inclusion,” President Uhuru said in his address.

Ethiopia's telecommunications regulator awarded an operating licence to a consortium led by Kenya's Safaricom and Japan's Sumitomo.

The Head of State also said the Consortium plans to inject more than Sh800 billion into the Ethiopian economy over the next ten years, which he says is the largest single investment that Ethiopia has attracted.

“Indications are that by opening your economy to Safaricom and its Consortium members, Ethiopia will, in the short and medium-term, add no less than 1.5 million jobs,” he went on.  

The president added that M-Pesa, an invention by Safaricom a decade ago, had enabled easier and safer saving methods, therefore, improving the people’s financial discipline.

“Right from the villages to the cities, financial services have been made possible by mobile financial platform,” the president said.

According to the president, the event marked the beginning of stronger ties between Kenya and Ethiopia.

This is after Ethiopian President Dr Abiy Ahmed committed to opening up the Moyale border and growing it into an economic hub for East Africa.

“The digital transformation that is expected to arise from this investment will be a game-changer for all segments of the Ethiopian economy,” he went on.

The licence award means Safaricom can now tap into the lucrative Ethiopian market after the country awarded an operating licence to a consortium that is led by the Kenyan telco.

This paves the way for the company’s expansion into Ethiopia, which has massive opportunities for growth owing to its over 112 million population.

According to earlier reports, the consortium, which includes Safaricom’s parent companies Vodacom and Vodafone, and the British development finance agency CDC Group paid Sh91.9 billion for the licence.

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