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East Africa’s Largest Telco Now Fully Owns M-Pesa, Africa’s Biggest Mobile Money Platform


April 6, 2020

The largest telecommunications company in East Africa, Safaricom, has joined hands with Vodacom to fully acquire M-Pesa — Africa’s foremost and largest mobile money platform.

The brand which was bought from Vodafone, claims to have 40 million users and processes over a billion transactions every month.

It is operational in Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Ghana, Congo, Mozambique, Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The service was first launched in 2007 by Vodafone for Safaricom and Vodacom.

At this time, some 25 percent of all M-Pesa customers have access to a smartphone and the figure is said to be growing by 10 percent each year. The digital payments service is assisted by the penetration of mobile devices and increase in internet connectivity in Africa.

By way of the acquisition, Safaricom and Vodacom are taking complete control of the M-Pesa brand, its product development and support services as well as the platform’s African expansion.

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Safaricom is the Kenyan subsidiary of South Africa’s Vodacom, and the two ventures hope that their newly joined efforts would catalyse the growth of the platform.

The acquisition comes at a time when Africa is the official capital of mobile money in the world. Of the 1 billion users across the globe, half is from the continent, according to GSMA.

“The transaction, which was first announced in 2019, will accelerate M-Pesa’s growth in Africa by giving both Vodacom and Safaricom full control of the M-Pesa brand, product development and support services as well as the opportunity to expand M-Pesa into new African markets,” both telcos said in a statement.

Nick Read, Vodafone Group’s CEO, said: “M-PESA is hugely successful and enables millions of unbanked people in Africa to transfer money, pay bills and trade. It benefits communities and helps create a multitude of small and micro-business ventures.

However, with the rapid increase in smartphone penetration, the evolution into financial services and the potential for geographical expansion, we believe the next step in M-PESA’s African growth will be more effectively overseen by Vodacom and Safaricom.”

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