President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged Ethiopia to open up its telecoms sector to private mobile money business investors. This move comes in line with the sector’s reform plans and brings in foreign investment.
It is true that Ethiopia is opening up its telecoms sector when authorities awarded the country’s first private operator licence to a consortium led by Kenya's Safaricom, Vodafone, and Japan's Sumitomo. However, only state-owned operator Ethio Telecom is allowed to offer mobile financial services while foreign operators are barred from involvement in mobile money services.
"I am hopeful that your government will consider in the near future, opening up the opportunity for mobile money in Ethiopia," Kenyatta, who is on a visit to Ethiopia, said at a ceremony in the capital Addis Ababa where the consortium was officially awarded its operating licence.
"This move will be particularly timely, as it will offer the millions of Ethiopian people avenues for financial inclusion."
Ethiopia is hoping that the opening of one of the world's last major closed telecoms markets will create millions of online job opportunities.
The Safaricom consortium plans to invest up to $8.5 billion in the country's infrastructure among other areas.