Safaricom signs major M-PESA deal in Ethiopia

  • Safaricom has partnered with Onafriq so that its customers in Ethiopia can send and receive money digitally from countries all over the world.
  • It is the latest fintech addition the Horn of Africa country is set to receive from Safaricom.
  • Ethiopia has been steadily embracing digital technologies after many years of being closed off to foreign investment.

East Africa’s king of mobile money, M-PESA, is hoping to streamline digital fund transfers in Ethiopia, its newest and most promising territory, after signing a deal with one of Africa’s largest digital payment networks.

The new deal between the Vodacom-owned Safaricom and Onafriq will see Ethiopian customers of Safaricom be able to send and receive funds from different parts of the world through M-PESA. According to an announcement, this was made possible after authorisation was received from the National Bank of Ethiopia.

Since around 2019, Ethiopia has steadily been opening itself to foreign investments. Safaricom is the first non-state-owned telecom in the country. Previously only Ethio Telecom serviced the country’s 120 million mostly unbanked population. This latest deal marks another step in the acceptance of foreign digital technologies.

Meanwhile, M-PESA continues to enjoy near-total dominance in its home nation of Kenya and has been growing in surrounding regions exponentially. With M-PESA, users can send and receive funds digitally through any cellular device with a SIM card and without a bank account.

But the deal extends beyond Ethiopia, with M-PESA now able to tap into Onafriq’s extensive network of 500 million mobile money wallets and 200 million bank accounts across 40 African countries.

“Our goal is to make payments easier, and the incorporation of International Money Transfer services into M-PESA serves that purpose perfectly. Ethiopia generates more than five billion USD in remittances annually and this partnership will provide the Ethiopian Diaspora with an easy and fast formal channel to send money to their loved ones in Ethiopia,” enthuses Paul Kavavu, General Manager at Safaricom Ethiopia.

Nika Naghavi, Group Head of Growth at Onafriq, believes that the partnership will directly stimulate the realisation of Ethiopia’s digital transformation strategy.

“The agreement with M-PESA Safaricom extends our reach in Africa even further and strengthens our position as the largest payment network on the continent. We are confident that this partnership will positively impact economic growth and the achievement of greater sustainable development goals,” they said.


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