Ethiopia is probably the biggest untapped market in the East African region. With a population of over 100 million people, this market, however, remains mostly locked away from most international investors and local businesses stifled thanks to the previously politically charged environment.
However, with the recent change in political leadership that occurred in a peaceful transition of power. The new political leadership seems keen on letting the world know, Ethiopia is now open for business. And Kenya’s biggest telecom by market share and world-renowned leader in mobile money solution, Safaricom, is planning to venture into the Ethiopian market.
Safaricom is rumored to be in talks with the Ethiopian government to see its mobile money service M-Pesa roll out in the country. Though there is no official communication over the same, but insiders inside the Ethiopian government said the talks are at an advanced stage.
The new Ethiopia political leadership under the stewardship of new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has seen the socio-economic sectors of the country take bold and reformative moves to bolster their standings.
Ethiopia like many developing nations lucks the traditional banking system to facilitate easy trade among locals. With the introduction of mobile money, a money transfer and payment systems that bypass the conventional banking systems, Ethiopia could essentially fast-track business and economic growth. All without first having to invest and grow the traditional banking system, which will be a slow and expensive process.
Should the talks pull through, the M-Pesa will get the license to operate in Ethiopia, with Safaricom hosting the mobile payment service servers in Nairobi, Kenya. And with Vodafone Group being the owner of the M-Pesa technology and patents, it is the Vodafone Group that will be licensing off M-Pesa to a local Ethiopian bank.