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Mobile money transfer: ‘Ethiopia hasn’t shut the door to M-Pesa’

Digital Transformation Adviser to the Ethiopian Prime Minister Myriam Said has released a statement about Ethiopia’s priority projects in the area of connectivity and digital entrepreneurship in an interview with Ethiopian news agency, The Africa Report.

She fielded various questions during the interview, ranging from the government's plans for improving Ethiopia's digital infrastructure to what the government is doing to see to it that a greater percentage than the current 24% of the nation's population gain access to the internet.

Myriam Said. Photo Credit: Africa CEO Forum

Most notably for this report however, is her response on why the National Bank of Ethiopia, decided to only allow locally-owned non-financial institutions to offer mobile money services, unlike Kenya, where Safaricom was given the go-ahead to launch its M-Pesa app, which the Ethiopian authorities denied the fintech.

According to Said;

"Unlike Kenya, where the telecoms sector has influence, Ethiopia is a country in which banks have clout. Ethio Telecom can’t, for example, launch its own mobile banking service. It has to create a joint venture with a banking institution and form a company specific to that project. So, we didn’t shut the door to M-Pesa. Instead, we’ve asked them to partner with an Ethiopian bank."

Evidently, the road to digital, financial and digital financial inclusion for each African nation would have to be mostly unique to each society. What we however hope to see each nation insist on is individual and collective progress towards digital and financial inclusion across Africa.

Ethiopia In Focus:

Population: 112.078 million (Compared to South Africa's 59.6 million)

GDP: $96.108 billion (Compared to South Africa's $369.85 billion)

GDP Per Capita: $850 (Compared to South Africa's $6,193)