EMEA 300: Africa

Published: October 6, 2015

The African telecoms sector is growing fast, while businesses in South Africa are investing elsewhere to reduce reliance on their domestic market. Abi Millar reports.

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Kenyan company Safaricom is no ordinary mobile phone provider. Not only is the telecoms giant East Africa’s biggest corporate, but it also provides millions of Kenyans with access to formal financial services. Without use of its mobile money network, M-Pesa, customers would lack banking facilities in what remains an overwhelmingly cash-based economy. 

Introduced in 2007, M-Pesa enables Kenyans to send funds between accounts and undertake a wealth of other branchless banking services. More recently, the country has witnessed the rise of Lipa Na M-Pesa, which allows customers to use their phones at the point of sale. 

Today, total transaction volumes over the network amount to some 40% of GDP, and Lipa Na M-Pesa has overtaken credit and debit cards as Kenyans’ preferred mode of cashless transaction. With its near monopoly on mobile banking, Safaricom has unsurprisingly become the operator of choice for calls and mobile messaging too. 

“Safaricom has over the years been registering growth in its revenue streams and we attribute this to prudent management and the effective implementation of our customer-focused strategy,” CEO Bob Collymore tells EMEA Finance. “However, during the financial year we registered some strides that drove the growth that we reported. We launched the 4G network in Nairobi and Mombasa, we have expanded the M-PESA agent network, and we partnered with other corporates to widen the M-PESA ecosystem.”

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