Reuters news agency have claimed that Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom is in “advanced talks” with the Ethiopian government to launch its popular mobile money M-Pesa service in the country.
Under the proposed deal, Safaricom’s ultimate parent company, British telecommunications business Vodafone, will license the use of the M-Pesa trade name to an Ethiopia-based bank while Safaricom will host the servers in Nairobi.
Safaricom was started in 1993 as a department of the former state-owned telecommunications company, Kenya Post and Telecommunication Corporation. In 1997, Safaricom Limited was incorporated as a private limited liability company with 40% ownership held by Vodafone Kenya Limited.
In 2002, it was converted to a public company while the government held 60% of the shares, 25% of which was auctioned off in 2008 on the Nairobi Stock Exchange.
M-Pesa was launched in 2007 and has nearly 30 million users in Kenya. It has become the principal driver of profit growth for the company as revenues from traditional voice and data services have flatlined.