Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore is eyeing m-Pesa expansion across Africa after Vodacom completes an acquisition of the majority of Vodafone’s stake in the Kenyan operator.
In a Reuters interview, Collymore said Vodacom’s plan to acquire 34.94 per cent of Vodafone’s Safaricom stake for ZAR35 billion ($2.6 billion) gave his company the opportunity to export the service into new markets. He added the company would look at “all African countries”, with the exception of South Africa and Tanzania.
South Africa proved a difficult market for mobile money providers, with MTN and Vodacom both abandoning services in 2016. In Tanzania, Vodacom’s existing m-Pesa service already holds a significant footprint.
In the interview, Collymore said he hoped to make a further announcement on the subject by the end of 2017. The CEO gave a similar timeline in December 2016, when he told Kenyan newspaper The Standard he had held discussions to expand m-Pesa with five potential partners.
When it announced its plan to acquire the Safaricom stake, Vodacom said the deal would provide an opportunity to expand m-Pesa.
IDC senior research analyst Laura Petrone told Mobile World Live Vodacom now had an opportunity to diversify its business and grow mobile money services.
“The implications of this transaction are twofold: on one hand it would make possible an even larger level of diversification for Vodacom away from telco core services,” Petrone said, adding: “On the other hand it would provide Vodacom with an highly complementary mobile money footprint to its existing one in Africa and it will improve its presence in East Africa.”
“Also, thanks to the already strong interoperability between Vodacom’s network in Tanzania and Safaricom’s in Kenya, the deal would potentially boost Vodacom’s position in the cross-border remittances market, which is increasingly becoming the new mobile money frontier.”