Ethiopia has reportedly publicised a demand of US$150 million from Safaricom for the operator to deploy its M-Pesa mobile money platform in the country, with talks to be held this week.
A document published by the National Bank of Ethiopia, read: “A foreign national applicant shall present evidence for the payment of $150 million or equivalent in another foreign currency for investment protection fee,” reported The East African.
Safaricom Ethiopia has already spent over US$300 million on its telecoms license fee and equipment imports.
The central bank and officials from Safaricom Ethiopia, and the Ethiopia Telecommunication Authority, will meet this week to discuss the deployment.
M-Pesa is a bright spot in Safaricom’s 2022 financial results, bringing in KES107.69 billion (US$854 million) in revenue which was a 30% increase year-on-year, as subscriber numbers swelled to 30.53 million M-Pesa, a 7.8% increase.
Ethiopia poses an attractive market for Safaricom with its massive population of over 110 million people, making it the second most populous country in Africa, behind Nigeria. Safaricom Ethiopia reported it already has over one million mobile subscribers.
State-owned operator Ethio Telecom has been making moves to ramp up its operations and services in the face of its new rival, having gone without competition for years.