We Have Not Stopped Looking at Ethiopia Market – Safaricom

Safaricom Posts Ksh101.0 billion Profit Before Tax Full Year Results

Micheal Joseph, Former Safaricom Chief Executive

Safaricom Plc says it has not stopped its expansion plans with an eye into the Ethiopian market.

Sitoyo Lopokoiyit the Chief Officer- Financial Services at Safaricom in an interview with CNBC Africa, disclosed that having lost its bid for an Ethiopian telecommunications license had not stopped them from looking at the market.

“I think, first of all, we have not stopped looking at Ethiopia, the mobile money regulations came out last week and we are looking at what is the implications of it,” he said.

“It is in the early days to understand the regulations that have come out there. We have not stopped at anything. I think it is more of let us look at the regulations that have come out and study them and see what opportunity is there.”

The listed Kenyan digital services provider together with Vodacom Group Ltd. teamed up to jointly bid for an Ethiopian telecommunications license, however, Ethiopia’s central bank said it would only allow locally-owned non-financial institutions to offer mobile money services.

The Ethiopian market has an estimated population of over 108 million people and about 50 million phone subscribers.

Silver lining

In another development, the Ethiopian government plans to auction two new licences besides selling a stake in its monopoly Ethiopian Telecommunications Corp.

According to International Finance Corporation (IFC), providing transaction advisory services whose mandate runs until December 31, 2021, “IFC will support the Ministry of Finance issue two new full-service telecommunications licenses, in line with the objectives of the Government of Ethiopia to liberalize the telecommunications sector.”

Sitoyo also disclosed that with the conclusion of the acquisition of M-Pesa by South Africa’s Vodacom and Kenya’s Safaricom from the UK’s Vodafone, “The future is exciting!

“This joint venture gives us strength in numbers to really accelerate M-pesa within our markets as long as we focus on customers and give them relevant products and services, we shall succeed,” said Sitoyo in relation to prospects in new markets like Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Michael Joseph, former Safaricom chief executive said “this … partnership with Vodacom will allow us to consolidate our platform development, synchronise more closely our product roadmaps and improve our operational capabilities into a single, fully converged centre of excellence.”