Mobile operator to ride on partnerships as plans to penetrate new markets intensifies

The Ethiopian government is soon expected to grant a telecom license to two new international telecoms with Safaricom poised to be among the beneficiaries.

Despite a tough regulatory environment plus the incumbent telco – Ethio Telcom enjoying several state privileges, Safaricom which recently marked 19 years in business – will be betting on Ethiopia’s massive population of over 122 Million and low mobile money penetration to deliver the most advanced mobile money scheme in the world, MPESA.

Of the 35% of adults in Ethiopia who possess bank accounts, only a mere 1% have a mobile money wallet– but with a massive 40 Million Plus mobile subscribers in the country, it, therefore, makes a good case for Safaricom to tap into this vast potential through its revolutionary international mobile money service.

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Analysts at Genghis Capital forecast that Ethiopia’s booming economy and multi-sector reforms by Prime Minister & Nobel Laureate Abiya Ahmed are further set to enhance healthy competition in a country where state-owned Ethio Telcom holds a monopoly.

Mpesa’s robustness and agility have cleared the way for it to be exported past the Kenyan borders, a strong endorsement that Kenya’s largest telco company has come of age to command respect in the strictly controlled international financial markets.

Nonetheless, Safaricom is said to be seeking partnerships based on a revenue-sharing element with Ethio Telcom, regional banks and Kenyan banks that already have a footprint in Ethiopia, among the Equity and KCB – with Safaricom’s Chief Business Development Officer, Debra Mallowah expected to spearhead the initiative

In April this year, Equity and Safaricom signed a deal that will see the two titans launch joint products and services in markets where they both operate – with Equity planning on entering 10 African countries by the end of this year

But as the company begins a new customer-centric chapter in business. It is its heavy investment in its customer resources that have been critical to building such robust products and services. During its 19th year celebration, for instance, CEO Michael Joseph announced that the telco was lifting the expiry date for data bundles.

In addition to deepening financial inclusion regionally, M-PESA’s reputation has seen it partner with international firms such as Paypal and Western Union to enable customers to send a receive money globally.  

In March, the telco partnered with China-based Ant Finance, the largest fintech services providers in the world, to enable merchants who source goods & supplies in the vibrant Chinese market via AliExpress to make payments through MPESA.

The money transfer service has also been credited with providing its customers access to life-enhancing financial services and at the same time serving as a gateway to the digital economy.

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