Safaricom Rules Out Hiving Off M-Pesa in New Group Structure

Safaricom Rules Out Hiving Off M-Pesa in New Group Structure
A Safaricom Plc shop offering Safaricom Plc M-Pesa mobile money services in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. Safaricom report earnings on Nov. 9. Photographer: Eduardo Soteras Jalil/Bloomberg

East Africa’s biggest company Safaricom Plc sees no compelling case for splitting its mobile-money service M-Pesa into a separate unit under a new group holding structure planned for 2025.

The service that accounts for nearly half of company revenue will remain in the same business as data, voice and messaging, according to Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa. Kenya’s government, which holds slightly more than a third of Safaricom’s shareholding, is not pushing for a separation, he said in an interview in the capital, Nairobi.

“You’ve seen what Airtel and MTN have done — have they gotten better valuations? Probably not. Have they raised more money — yes, probably. Do we need more money? No we don’t,” Ndegwa said.

Airtel Africa Plc separated its mobile-money service into a unit that’s the firm’s fastest-growing division. South Africa’s MTN Group Ltd. also cleaved off mobile money and closed a deal with Mastercard Inc. that valued the business at $5.2 billion.

Read More: MTN Seeks New Round of Investment for Fintech Business (1)

Safaricom, which is majority owned by Vodacom Group Ltd. of South Africa, will set up a holding entity next year to increase visibility for its divisions as it morphs into an African technology company, Ndegwa said.

The wireless carrier introduced M-Pesa in Ethiopia in August and is already facilitating electricity bill payments. It’s targeting as many as 4 million users of the service this year, Ndegwa said.

“Now we need to go to fuel, we need to see us being allowed the same services that EthioTel is providing,” he said, referring to state-owned giant Ethiopian Telecommunications Corp.

Losses Peak

Safaricom will now slow down capital expenditure in Ethiopia after accelerated investment. Operating losses for the just concluded financial year were probably the peak and breakeven in two years is within target, he said of the business launched in 2022. “From the time you are around 3,500 sites, that’s scale because it’s more than half of what Kenya has.”

Read More: Ethiopia Weighs on Safaricom Kenya’s Strong Annual Outcome 

A reduction on the mobile termination rate in Ethiopia will save Safaricom 35% in costs, he said. The operator had only 4.4 million customers by the end of its financial year, compared with about 75 million subscribers at EthioTel. Small carriers usually pay more to connect calls as their users are often phoning other networks rather than their own.

Safaricom shares closed 3.5% higher at 16.50 shillings in Nairobi, the most in six weeks.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.