When Abiy Ahmed come to power about three years ago, the new administration and the former ruling party, EPRDF, had announced that crucial economic reforms would be taken similar to the political openness. The Ethiopian year that ended on Friday September 10 has seen some tangible policy shifts as per the promise despite the effect of COVID 19 on some processes. For instance, the opening up of the telecom sector is the biggest success attained as per the project. Similarly, the ratification of Capital Market Proclamation is the other milestone during the year.
Meanwhile, there are several achievements like export earnings, agricultural productivity and mining sector boom that is expected to take close to one fifth of the GDP for the 2020/21 budget year while inflation, mainly food inflation, has stood as the major macro-economic challenge for the year.
True to the promise of opening up the telecommunication, the biggest deal in the horn of Africa, in the form of the safaricom-led consortium were granted operator’s license for Ethiopia. This will open the door for more fierce competition between Ethio telecom and safaricom as both try to have the upper hand in the telecom service in the country. We hope to see this flourish as the New Year kick starts.
Staying competitive, Ethio Telecom in May this year launched a mobile phone-based financial service, seeking to boost growth by offering cashless transactions. This is because mobile financial services have become a significant part of African telecom operators’ businesses since Kenya’s Safaricom pioneered them with M-Pesa in 2007, giving people an alternative to banks.
The new service, telebirr, will mark a shift for Ethiopia, where the banking system is seen as inefficient with 19 commercial banks serving a population of about 115 million. This financial platform will allow users to send and receive money, deposit or take out cash at appointed agents, pay bills to various merchants and receive cash sent from abroad.
Pictured here is a notification at Koket Borena Hotel, one of the biggest hotels at the Ethio-Kenya border town of Moyale, receiving payments through the newly introduced electronic payment system of the telecom giant, Ethio Telecom’s Telebirr. This is the first step to a cashless society and hopefully we will see these kinds of signs in the rest of the country including Addis Ababa in the coming New Year.
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