• Uhuru asked the Ethiopian government to consider opening up opportunities for mobile money services as part of the telecommunications liberalization process.
• Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the award of the telecommunications license will catalyse inclusive prosperity.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has told Ethiopians that the entry of Kenya's technology giant Safaricom will help transform their country by positively impacting most sectors of the 112 million population economy.
Using the example of Safaricom's impact on the Kenyan economy over the years, Uhuru lauded Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his administration for choosing to liberalise the country's telecommunications sector.
He was peaking on Tuesday evening in Ethiopia during the issuance of an operating licence to the Safaricom-led Global Partnership for Ethiopia consortium which won a Sh91.8 billion bid to operate in the country.
“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. Uhuru said.
The president added that Ethiopia now stands at the cusp of making even greater strides in Safaricom’s areas of strength, which he said will include digital presence, mobile money, telephony, data and fibre connectivity, and business solutions.
Global Partnership for Ethiopia which brings together Kenya's Safaricom, South Africa's Vodacom, UK's Vodafone, British finance agency CDC Group, and Japan's Sumitomo Corporation won the 15-year license in a competitive bidding process making it the first private telecoms player in the country.
With the issuance of the license, the consortium will officially start its operations in the Horn of Africa nation next year and is expected to expend over Sh64 billion in ten years, making it the largest FDI in Ethiopia's history.
He also asked the Ethiopian government to consider opening up opportunities for mobile money services as part of the telecommunications liberalisation process.
“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.”
Uhuru added that the entry of Safaricom will help Ethiopia create over 1.5 million new job opportunities for its citizens.
Abiy Ahmed said the award of the telecommunications license will catalyse inclusive prosperity, adding that the competition will create a vibrant telecommunications sector.
Other speakers at the colorful event were the Chief Executive Officers of Safaricom Peter Ndegwa, Ethiopian Communications Authority Bacha Reba, and Vodafone South Africa Shameel Joosub.
Uhuru is in Ethiopia for an official visit accompanied Raychelle Omamo Foreign CS, and her ICT counterpart Joe Mucheru.