Teaming up for the Unbanked

MTN and Mastercard's partnership, Work from home Visa, Telecom license in Ethiopia

Hello there, 

Wow, what a week. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala finally got confirmed as the first woman and African leader of the World Trade Organisation, and Ghana paid half its debt to power producers.

Mastercard and MTN are Teaming up

Mastercard and MTN Group announced a partnership that will allow millions of MTN Mobile Money (MoMo) customers to pay for goods and services on global e-commerce platforms.

Tell me more

The Mastercard virtual payment solution will be available in 16 countries across Africa where MTN offers MoMo e-wallets. 

Who is this for?

The unbanked. As MTN MoMo customers can use this feature without having a bank account.

I’m not unbanked, why should I care?

Of course, we thought of that so here’s the gist. In Africa, mobile financial services have become the dominant form of digital payments, with twice as many mobile money accounts as bank accounts. It’s no wonder banks are a bit wary of telcos.

Take MTN’s MoMo, for instance, it was initially designed to facilitate the transfer of cash between mobile users, but now its offering more – including loans, insurance, remittances and payments. 

Big picture: Telcos are slowly eating into the banking market. How will banks respond to this?

WFH Visa for the Western Cape

Western Cape wants South Africa to introduce a new ‘remote working’ visa.

The restrictions of movement around the world have brought about the explosion of Digital Nomads.

Who are Digital Nomads?

Wiki says they are guys who often work remotely from foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces, or recreational vehicles.


South Africa is kinda worried that it’s international tourism will not recover to pre-Covid-19 levels this year, as the pandemic continues in many countries around the world. And because they need the money they usually make when foreigners come to chill in their country, they are looking at plans to create a 3 month-long visa attractive to these digital nomads. Western Cape, one of the major provinces in South Africa, is looking at pushing this project.

Here are some other countries that have also introduced a remote working visa.

Bad Energy

One drawback to this idea is that more residents in the country could result in more pressure on the country’s weak energy infrastructure. Major energy giant Eskom has had its struggles since last year and energy prices have been rising. Rent in the country could go up.

Looking through the crystal ball

The government has already identified the energy sector as one of its major priorities to develop. While that option raises revenue for the govt without employing anyone, the country has also been working with multinationals to create jobs in the country. 

Earlier this month, Ford talked about its plans to invest R15.8 billion($1B) and create 1,200 jobs in the next few years. It is the largest deal the automakers have made in the country. This increases its total workforce to 5,500 employees and adds about 10,0000 more jobs across its supplier network.

No more monopoly

You probably didn’t know this but at the moment and for the longest time, Ethiopia has only one mobile telecommunication operator, Ethiotel.

Managed by the government, Ethiotel has since been Ethiopia’s sole telecoms operator, but now they are hoping to give other players a chance to eat from the national cake, Ethiopia’s untapped telecom market.

May the best man win

12 telecoms companies including Safaricom, MTN, Orange, Saudi Telecom, Telecom SA, Liquid Telecom, Snail Telecom, Etisalat among others are all interested to land the deal. 

The Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) has shortlisted six out of the 12 aforementioned telcos for the next stage of the bidding process. The six companies will need to submit their technical offers by April 5, 2021. However, Safaricom has claimed it made the cut already, leaving the rest five spots unknown. 

The Ethiopian internet market

Ethiopia is a large market, with a population of 112 million and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $96 billion. 

However, just like some African countries, Ethiopia has had a history of internet shutdown, following unrest in the country. In July 2020, Ethiopia shut down the internet for about a month after deadly protests that followed the assassination of activist and popular musician, Hachalu Hundessa. There have been several such situations in the past. 

Worth reading 📚

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