Safaricom will transform Ethiopia’s economy, President Kenyatta says

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President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya (front left) cracks a joke with Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (front right) in Addis Ababa. The Kenyan president was there to witness the issuance of an operating license to Kenyan telco Safaricom by the Ethiopian government.
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya (front left) cracks a joke with Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (front right) in Addis Ababa. The Kenyan President was there to witness the issuance of an operating license to Kenyan telco Safaricom by the Ethiopian government. PHOTO/COURTESY: borkena.com

President Uhuru Kenyatta has lauded the Ethiopian government for allowing telecommunications giant Safaricom to operate in the country saying that the move will positively impact major sectors of Ethiopia’s economy.

President Kenyatta spoke on Tuesday at the Friendship Park in Central Addis Ababa during the issuance of the operating license to the Safaricom-led consortium that won a 15-year permit to operate in Ethiopia after bidding Ksh. 91.8 billion.

“Today’s ceremony is the first step in an exciting and rewarding opportunity for Ethiopia. Kenya has seen the great gains and opportunities unleashed by Safaricom across the entirety of our socio-economic landscape. 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,” President Kenyatta said.

Other firms that were part of the winning consortium include South Africa’s Vodacom, UK’s Vodafone, British finance agency CDC Group, and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation. With the issuance of the license, the consortium will officially start operating in Ethiopia in 2022 and is projected to spend approximately Ksh. 864 billion in a decade, making it the largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Ethiopia’s history.

President Kenyatta similarly insisted that the Ethiopian administration should consider laying the necessary groundwork needed to incorporate Safaricom’s mobile money transfer platform M-Pesa into the country’s telecommunications facelift. According to President Kenyatta, doing so will allow Ethiopia to tap into the lucrative mobile money market.

“In Kenya, the success of M-PESA, Africa’s, if not global, first mobile money platform, is a classic example of what possibilities lie in mobile financial services, if fully exploited. Studies have shown that enhanced access to mobile financial services, have a great potential to reduce poverty as more people are enabled, easier and safer savings and in effect, greatly influencing the kind of choices they make in life,” President Kenyatta said.

According to President Kenyatta, mobile financial services are vital in tackling societal gaps such as gender inequalities since they create opportunities for women.

“Right from the villages to the cities, financial services have been made possible by mobile financial platforms. Women, have particularly been empowered by these services, and are now able to participate meaningfully in the economy, alongside men. This is an area we must devote our collective efforts to as we usher in the digital economy,” the President said.

On his part, Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed insisted that the entry of Safaricom into the Horn of Africa country will fashion a healthy and competitive telco environment that will create thousands of employment opportunities and grow Ethiopia’s economy.

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