Ethiopia clears hurdle for M-Pesa expansion

Ethiopia has cleared the way for Safaricom to introduce its popular M-Pesa in the market of 110 million people after deciding to include the mobile phone-based financial services in the telco’s licence offered in May.

Ethiopian authorities told Business Daily Thursday that the Safaricom licence will be upgraded to include mobile financial service when it completes bidding for its second telecoms operator permit.

The bidding will be opened this month.

A consortium led by Safaricom secured the first licence, which does not have a permit for mobile financial services like M-Pesa, in May.

The consortium will start operations next year when Ethiopian authorities say the telco will have the right to operate mobile financial services.

This marks a departure from last year’s directive that only allowed locally owned non-financial institutions to offer mobile money service, dimming the hopes of foreign firms like Safaricom that are seeking a presence in Kenya’s neighbouring country.

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