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Ethiopia proposes $150 mln fee for mobile money service operators

Ethiopia is proposing a $150 million license fee for mobile operators including Safaricom’s SCOM.NR M-Pesa who want to invest in mobile money services in the country, according to a central bank official and a draft document seen by Reuters on Monday.

According to the draft regulations sent last week to banks, payments operators and Safaricom Ethiopia and seen by Reuters, foreign operators are required to pay the amount to invest in the sector.

“Any foreign investor who would like to work as a mobile payment operator needs to pay… in order to invest in a business exclusively reserved for domestic investors or the government,” said a senior central bank official. He declined to be named as he was not authorised to talk to the media.

Kenya-listed Safaricom launched the mobile phone-based money transfer service in 2007, and the business, known as M-Pesa, has evolved to account for roughly half of the company’s annual revenue.

Safaricom confirmed receiving the directive and said it looked forward to discussing it with the central bank.

Last year Ethiopia said it had granted Safaricom a license to operate a mobile money service after the company won the first private telecom license in Ethiopia. Nasdaq

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