Safaricom Taps Ethiopia’s Upcoming Bond Market to Support Expansion

Safaricom, Kenya’s telecommunications giant, is eyeing Ethiopia’s nascent bond market to fuel its ambitious expansion into the country. After securing a landmark USD 850 million license in 2021 to operate in Ethiopia, the first time it has ventured outside its home market, Safaricom has made significant strides.

The company now boasts 4.4 million active mobile subscribers and 4.5 million M-Pesa mobile money users in Ethiopia. Its extensive infrastructure, including 2,806 telecommunication towers and 62,700 active agents, has enabled it to reach a substantial portion of Ethiopia’s population.

However, Safaricom’s foray into Ethiopia has not been without its challenges. In the year ending March 2024, the company’s overall earnings dropped to USD 331 million, as the USD 327 million loss from its Ethiopian operations offset a 13.7% increase in profits from its Kenyan business.

Safaricom’s Chief Financial Officer, Dilip Pal, has unveiled the company’s plans to raise between USD 100-150 million through the issuance of bonds denominated in Ethiopian Birr.

The timing of Safaricom’s bond issuance aligns with the official launch of Ethiopia’s securities exchange, expected in the third quarter of 2024. This will position the company as the first international firm to access local currency debt through Ethiopia’s inaugural bond market.

Safaricom’s decision to tap into the local bond market is a deliberate attempt to diversify its funding sources and mitigate the impact of foreign currency exchange fluctuations. The company has recently accelerated efforts to reduce its exposure to foreign currency-denominated debt, retiring a USD 120 million loan ahead of schedule.

Eden Teshome

Editor-in-Chief of Ethiopian Business Review (EBR). She can be reached at

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