Ethiopia launches Chinese-developed mobile money service solution

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Photo taken on May 11, 2021 shows people attending the launching ceremony of the Ethio-Telecom's mobile money service solution called "Tele-Birr" in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. [Photo/Xinhua]

Ethiopia's state-owned Ethio-Telecom on Tuesday evening launched a Chinese-developed mobile money service solution.

The launch of the Ethio-Telecom's mobile money service solution, called "Tele-Birr", was attended by high level Ethiopian government officials including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as well as various foreign dignitaries.

The "Tele-Birr" mobile money service solution which took five months to develop and complete was undertaken by Chinese hi-tech giant Huawei.

Speaking at the "Tele-Birr" launching ceremony, Ahmed commended all relevant stakeholders that enabled the completion of the project in a short period of time.

With the launching of the "Tele-Birr", Ethio-Telecom customers can send, store and receive money by just using their telephone number, said Ahmed.

"Tele-Birr aims to extend mobile money services solutions to financially excluded sections of Ethiopian society," he further said.

Frehiwot Tamiru, CEO of Ethio-Telecom, said she expects to register 21 million users for the first-year service of "Tele-Birr", eventually rising to 33 million customers in a five-year period.

"I expect about 40 to 50 percent of Ethiopia's economic activity to be transacted on the "Tele-Birr" platform within a five-year period," the Ethio-Telecom CEO said.

Ethio-Telecom is also working with various service providers to create a conducive environment for transactions, such as water and sewage, electric service, revenue authorities, supermarkets, gas stations, aid agencies, cafes, transport service providers and print media.

Tamiru also commended Huawei for finishing the mobile money services solution project in five months, down from an initial projected completion period of two years.

"We mobilized enough resources as part of a new strategy under Project Implementation Plan. Many of our experts came from China, even amidst COVID-19 pandemic scare, to finish the project as soon as possible," said Chen Mingliang, Huawei Ethiopia CEO.

Chen also remarked on China's successful mobile money services system, as a way to show it's possible for the Ethiopian economy which is dominated by cash transfers to transition to a cashless economy.

"In China we don't bring cash every time, we often use mobile phones to pay through applications on our mobile phone," Chen told Xinhua.

"This will be the beginning in Ethiopia of using mobile money instead of cash every time. It's a safer and more convenient way as well as being accessible to all sections of Ethiopian society," Chen said.

Ethiopia is undertaking extensive telecom modernization services with the help of Chinese firms as part of the east African country's aim of realizing digital inclusion and boosting the size of its digital economy, with the provision of reliable, high band-width and high-speed telecom services.

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