Ethio Telecom CEO Frehiwot Tamru (pictured) expressed confidence in the state-owned operator’s ability to remain a market leader while highlighting milestones the company made in its mobile money platform Telebirr, and repeating its ambition to transact half of Ethiopia’s GDP.
Speaking at Mobile World Congress, Tamru highlighted the operator’s coverage rate of 99.1%, the high population of Ethiopia which stands at over 120 million and the 100,000 agents that sell services. This laid the ground for Telebirr to gain 29 million users since launching in May 2021 and has transacted over ETB312 billion (US$5.8 billion).
She also noted there are 32 traditional banking institutions in Ethiopia but they could only collectively serve 400,000 customers. In less than seven months Ethiopia Telecom connected 1.1 million users to its Telebirr platform.
“In the future, our plan is to increase financial inclusion by 25-30% through Telebirr and connect more people to basic financial services,” said Tamru.
The chief executive said a key focus for Ethio Telecom was in digitalising government services to boost productivity. The operator has integrated 37 government institutions to date to enhance functions such as tax collection and bill payments.
This has rapidly cut down waiting times in physical queues at government buildings. She also noted the operator is working closely with enterprises to enhance their services but also to open new job opportunities and sectors in Ethiopia.
The operator also signed up 20 remittance providers to enable citizens to be transferred money from diaspora communities from 44 countries.
Tamru said: “By empowering enterprises we are also improving the lives of individuals. Through mobile money, we can expand beyond productivity enhancements. By digitalising our day-to-day activities and enterprise, we're creating new capabilities and opportunities, especially for enterprise to ensure their route to market.”
Ethio Telecom launched its mobile money services and has made moves to enhance its services since the government opened its doors to international operators. A second telecoms licence was awarded to Safaricom Ethiopia which is backed by Vodafone, Vodacom, Safaricom, Sumitomo Corporation and British International Investment.
Safaricom Ethiopia is still in the process of gaining its mobile money licence which will reportedly set the operator back US$150 million.