President Uhuru in Ethiopia to witness Historic Telecom Licensing Agreement with Global Partnership For Ethiopia
President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged the Ethiopian government to adopt mobile money transfer methods as its economy undergoes digital transformation.
Speaking during the award ceremony of the telecommunications license to the global partnership for Ethiopia consortium in Addis Ababa today, President Uhuru said if fully exploited, mobile money (M-Pesa) will improve the living standards of people.
“I am hopeful that your government will consider, in the near future, opening up the opportunity for mobile money in Ethiopia. This move will be particularly timely, as it will offer the millions of Ethiopian people avenues for financial inclusion,” President Uhuru said in his address.
Ethiopia’s telecommunications regulator awarded an operating licence to a consortium led by Kenya’s Safaricom and Japan’s Sumitomo.
The Head of State also said the Consortium plans to inject more than Sh800 billion into the Ethiopian economy over the next ten years, which he says is the largest single investment that Ethiopia has attracted.
“Indications are that by opening your economy to Safaricom and its Consortium members, Ethiopia will, in the short and medium-term, add no less than 1.5 million jobs,” he went on.
The president added that M-Pesa, an invention by Safaricom a decade ago, had enabled easier and safer saving methods, therefore, improving the people’s financial discipline.
“Right from the villages to the cities, financial services have been made possible by mobile financial platform,” the president said.
According to the president, the event marked the beginning of stronger ties between Kenya and Ethiopia.
This is after Ethiopian President Dr Abiy Ahmed committed to opening up the Moyale border and growing it into an economic hub for East Africa.
“The digital transformation that is expected to arise from this investment will be a game-changer for all segments of the Ethiopian economy,” he went on.
The licence award means Safaricom can now tap into the lucrative Ethiopian market after the country awarded an operating licence to a consortium that is led by the Kenyan telco.
This paves the way for the company’s expansion into Ethiopia, which has massive opportunities for growth owing to its over 112 million population.
According to earlier reports, the consortium, which includes Safaricom’s parent companies Vodacom and Vodafone, and the British development finance agency CDC Group paid Sh91.9 billion for the license.
Kenya, Ethiopia one-stop border post at Moyale opens
The much-awaited Moyale One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) on the Kenya-Ethiopia border has finally commenced operations.
This means that the border regulatory officials clearing traffic, cargo and persons from both Ethiopia and Kenya will now relocate to Moyale and sit side by side on either side of the border, where they will undertake exit and entry formalities in a joint and/or sequenced manner.
The move follows the official launch of Moyale OSBP in December 2020, by both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
It has raised hopes to bolster trade and cooperation between the two countries.
Moyale OSBP will be the first of its kind in Ethiopia and the fifth for Kenya with other operational OSBPs being Busia, Malaba, Namanga and Taveta.
Speaking at the commencement meeting, Mr Mengistu Tefera, Ethiopia’s head of delegation and Special Advisor to Commissioner-General Ethiopia Customs Commission said, “The people of Ethiopia and Kenya deserve to tie their economic and social relations under the principle of mutual benefit. The establishment of the OSBP will have a significant role in improving cross border trade and free movement of people.”
A fully functional OSBP is expected to reduce the border crossing time by at least 30 percent, to enable faster movement of cargo and people.
“Today, with the collaboration of both governments, development partners; the legal frameworks, construction, supplying office infrastructure and ICT technology and solar power of Moyale are fulfilled and ready for operation,” said Kennedy Nyaiyo, Kenya’s head of delegation and the Secretary of Kenya’s Border Management Secretariat.
“Let us utilise the OSBP and explore its opportunities to facilitate trade between Ethiopia and Kenya.”
Moyale OSBP is complemented by the development of other infrastructure projects such as a bitumen standard 438-kilometre road from Merille River to Moyale in Kenya and a 300-kilometre road in Ethiopia, with support from Africa Development Bank (AfDB), European Union, and the two governments in Nairobi And Addis.
“The OSBP will improve efficiency by reducing time and transport costs for businessmen, traders, tourists, transporters, and communities while crossing from one partner state to another,” said Mr Abenet Bekele, TMEA Ethiopia Deputy Country Director.
His counterpart, TMEA Kenya Programme Manager Mr Daniel Muturi, congratulated the two governments for the major achievement.
“We have already seen momentum created by the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopian (LAPSSET) corridor with the launch of the first berth at the Lamu Port,” said Mr Muturi.
“The Moyale OSBP will be a key catalyst to enhance trade on the Trans-African Highway to accelerate socio-economic transformation for both countries.”