M-PESA Safaricom partners with Onafriq, enabling the flow of remittances to Ethiopia


M-PESA Safaricom has signed an International Money Transfer Agreement with Onafriq, Africa’s largest digital payments network, operating in 40 African countries, to help streamline remittance flows to Ethiopia. M‑PESA provides individuals with quick and easy financial services through a mobile phone. Users do not need a bank account, just a Safaricom sim card. Through the agreement, individuals within Ethiopia are able to receive remittances from different parts of the world through M-PESA, based on the authorisation received from the National Bank of Ethiopia to start the remittance service in July 2023.

Last year, the World Bank stated that the remittances flow to countries in sub-Saharan Africa reached $54 billion in 2023 – an increase from the previous year’s gain. This increase was driven by strong remittance growth in countries like Mozambique, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

While this increase is a move in the right direction, there is work to be done. The receipt of remittances plays a crucial role in reducing poverty as well as the GDP of a country. Ethiopia’s Director General of Ethiopian Diaspora, Mohammed Endris, previously noted this, stating that in some countries remittances take up to 40-50% of the GDP, while the remittance sent by the diaspora to Ethiopia is 5%.  A partnership such as the one between M-PESA Safaricom and Onafriq will only serve to contribute to this figure.
The incorporation of International Money Transfer capability into its offering allows M-PESA to tap into and leverage Onafriq’s extensive network, connecting 500 million mobile money wallets and 200 million bank accounts. This vast reach enables domestic and cross-border disbursements and collections, card issuing and processing, agency banking, and treasury services.

Of this partnership, Paul Kavavu, General Manager at Safaricom Ethiopia, states: “Our goal is to make payments easier, and the incorporation of International Money Transfer services into M-PESA serves that purpose perfectly. Ethiopia generates more than five billion USD in remittances annually and this partnership will provide the Ethiopian Diaspora with an easy and fast formal channel to send money to their loved ones in Ethiopia.”
Nika Naghavi, Group Head of Growth at Onafriq, states that the partnership will directly stimulate the realisation of Ethiopia’s digital transformation strategy. The strategy termed ‘Digital Ethiopia 2025’, places emphasis on enabling systems through digital transformation, of which digital payments form a crucial part. The country’s solution to this includes ensuring financial inclusion, innovation in the banking system and the adoption of innovative solutions.
“We have always believed that payments should be a simple process, as simple as a phone call – connecting individuals through increased access. The agreement with M-PESA Safaricom extends our reach in Africa even further and strengthens our position as the largest payment network on the continent. We are confident that this partnership will positively impact economic growth and the achievement of greater sustainable development goals,” says Naghavi.

The service complements Ethiopia’s efforts to generate foreign currency inflow through formal channels, offering a safe, inclusive and reliable service to customers through M-PESA.

About M-PESA Safaricom
Safaricom M-PESA Mobile Financial Services PLC, a subsidiary of Safaricom Ethiopia, received a Payment Instrument Issuer License from the National Bank of Ethiopia in May 2023 and went operational in August 2023. M-PESA provides quick and easy financial services to anyone with a mobile phone. Since going operational for the first time in 2007 in Kenya, M-PESA has spread to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania. That makes M-PESA Africa’s most successful mobile money service.

About Onafriq

Onafriq is an omnichannel network of networks, making borders matter less by providing our partners with a single pathway to unlock the full power of cross-border and cross-platform payment solutions. With a network spanning 40 African markets, Onafriq connects over 500 million mobile money wallets, 200 million bank accounts, and 300,000 agents in Nigeria, enabling domestic and cross-border disbursements and collections, card issuing and processing, agency banking, and treasury services. By connecting global and regional enterprises, mobile network operators, money transfer operators, banks, fintechs, global development organisations, and online and offline merchants, supported by world-class regulatory and compliance capabilities and a strong regional presence in 10 offices in Africa, and others in the UK, US, and China. Onafriq is ushering in a new era of access for people across the African continent and beyond.

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