By Mark Kawalya
Safaricom is seeking to hire a new head for its planned M-Pesa services in Ethiopia, a sign that the company is banking on the success of the digital financial rollout in the country. However, all this preparation is against the backdrop of pending regulatory approvals from the Ethiopian government.
The Safaricom consortium, includes British development finance agency CDC Group and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation, which won the license with a bid of $850 million (Sh97.9 billion) and aims to start commercial operations in Ethiopia this year.
“We are pleased to announce the following vacancy for the head of department M-Pesa (mobile money) commercial within the digital financial services function in Ethiopia,” said Safaricom in a notice. “The holder of the role will oversee the M-Pesa commercial team as well as collaborate closely with all divisions and business units within the organization to ensure that M-Pesa products and services meet all the set KPIs (key performance indicators) as well as delight our customers.”
The large telecom stated that they are interested in a candidate for the position who has experience in managing a wide portfolio of mobile banking or digital money solutions.
The Ethiopian government said it would allow Safaricom to launch its popular M-Pesa service in the market of more than 110 million people after making a decision to include the digital payments service in the telecoms license that was issued in May 2021.
According to Ethiopian authorities, Safaricom’s license would be upgraded to include mobile money services after the firm had completed bidding for its second telecom operator permit.
The move demonstrates the government’s willingness to depart from current laws that permit only locally owned non-financial institutions to offer mobile money services.
“What will be permitted for the second licensee will be permitted for the first licensee. One thing we may be sure of is that the first and second licensee will have the chance to start providing mobile financial services at the same time.” the Director-General of Ethiopian Communications Authority told the Business Daily then.
The Kenyan based telecom was issued Ethiopia’s first private telecom license in 2021 after a lengthy process in which it outbid MTN Group.
Regulators are expected to clear the telecom to launch M-Pesa services this month, after including the mobile financial services within the scope of the license issued to it.