Safaricom Ethiopia has activated its network in Jijiga, a city known for its thriving mobile-money market. The telecom operator stated that the launch in Jijiga is coupled with 4 other cities, Hawassa, Assela, Sodo, and Dilla, bringing the company’s network coverage to 21 cities in the country.
Safaricom’s reach to Jijiga comes delayed as the telecom operator turned its services for the first time in Ethiopia in Dire Dawa, a city that’s just 106 km away from Jijiga, four months ago. In addition, Coming Soon pastors had been posted in Jijiga several months before the launch.
Jijiga, which is the seat of the Somali Regional State, has often been referred to as the “leading mobile-money city” in Ethiopia, where people can use mobile wallets to pay for almost everything.
Several mobile-money providers, such as HelloCash, Sahay, and EBirr, operate in the region and have enjoyed significant success.
For example, data from May 2021 showed that Shabelle Bank’s (formerly Somali Microfinance Institution) mobile money platform, HelloCash, saw over 200 million birr daily transactions.
The success of mobile money in the Somali region is attributed to many factors, such as the Somali community’s appetite for technology, the positive influence of neighboring Somaliland, where mobile money is widespread, and the lack of banks in the region, as well as the pastoral way of life of its people.
Ethio Telecom launched its 4G LTE Advanced network in towns in the Somali Regional State, including Jijiga in April 2021.