The land in the North has apparently closed its doors on one of Safaricom’s most profitable products, M-PESA. After years of success in Kenya, the telecom had hoped to introduce the mobile money service to the Ethiopian market with 100 million people.
The company had already begun talks with the Ethiopian government to launch the service in the country. But it all suddenly faded away when Ethiopia’s central bank said they would not allow any foreign financial institutions to offer mobile money services.
As of now, only Ethio Telecom, a government-owned monopoly is the only company allowed into the mobile money business in the country. The restriction simply means no other country from any other country can have the green light.
The new directive, however, does give Safaricom a chance to get M-PESA into the market but only if it partners with Ethio telecom. The Ethiopian company is actually on the verge of being privatised through the sale of a minority stake.
Furthermore, it’s not just Safaricom that’s been attracted to Ethiopia. Other African Telecoms including MTN, Orange and Airtel have all revealed their interests in gaining access to Ethiopia’s fast-growing mobile phone services market.
Without further changes to the regulations, Safaricom will remain unable to offer mobile financial services business in the customer-rich market, analysts said.
It is still not clear though if Safaricom seeks to extend its boundaries to other markets in Africa other than Ethiopia.