Kenya: Tap Into Mobile Money Trade, Kenyatta Tells Ethiopia After Safaricom Entry

The digital transformation that Safaricom will bring to Ethiopia following the firm's recent entrance into the market will be a game changer for the country, which now stands to witness huge developments in all segments of the economy.

The telco's entrance into the market sets the stage for Ethiopia to witness growth in digital presence, mobile money business, telephony, data and fibre connectivity, which Kenya is already a beneficiary of after hosting the multibillion shillings firm for over 20 years.

This is according to President Uhuru Kenyatta, who on Tuesday urged Ethiopia to consider opening up the opportunity for mobile transfers in the near future, a move he said will transform the lives of Ethiopians.

Financial inclusion

"Having witnessed first-hand in Kenya what mobile financial services can do in the transformation of the lives of citizens and a country's economy, I am hopeful that your government will consider, in the near future, opening up the opportunity for mobile money [business] in Ethiopia. This move will be particularly timely, as it will offer the millions of Ethiopian people avenues for financial inclusion," President Kenyatta said.

He was speaking in Ethiopia during a ceremony to grant an operating license to the Global Partnership for Ethiopia (a consortium with a majority shareholding by Safaricom).

"Ethiopia now stands at the cusp of making even greater strides in Safaricom's areas of strength, which include digital presence, mobile money, telephony, data and fibre connectivity, and business solutions," the President added.

Hotly contested bid

Global Partnership for Ethiopia won the hotly contested bid to run telecommunications services in the country two weeks ago, paying Sh91.8 billion.

President Kenyatta indicated that the consortium will inject more than Sh800 billion into the country's economy over the next decade, "the largest single investment that Ethiopia has attracted to date".

"But more importantly, the digital transformation that is expected to arise from this investment will be a game changer for all segments of the Ethiopian economy -- from the provision of essential government services right down to accessibility of markets and information for the farmers. This has been Kenya's own experience," the President said.

President Kenyatta noted that studies had linked access to mobile financial services with poverty reduction and addressing social disparities such as gender-related ones, a benefit Ethiopia now stands to gain.

He said among the biggest benefits Safaricom had also brought to the Kenyan economy was encouraging self-employment, observing that Ethiopia would generate at least 1.5 million jobs through the firm's entrance into the market.

"Women, have particularly been empowered by these services, and are now able to participate meaningfully in the economy, alongside men," he noted.

Foster good relations

The President called on the consortium to embrace best business practices which would foster good relations between the two countries as well as ensure clients are served well.

He said business between Ethiopia and Kenya had improved in the recent years, with the opening of the Moyale Border Post in December last year, a move he noted would speed up steps towards making Moyale town the economic hub of the region.

The President also noted that Kenya had opened the first berth at the Lamu Port three weeks ago, a key pillar of the Lapsset Corridor project which is to offer huge opportunities for several Eastern African countries.

"During that Moyale border function, you challenged the Kenyan private sector to capitalise on the untapped investment opportunities in Ethiopia. Today's ceremony is, indeed, a testimony of the progress we are making towards economic cooperation between our two countries," President Kenyatta said.

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