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Pressure Mounts On Safaricom As Airtel Money Separates From Airtel Network

Fridah Wangechi | 3 months ago
Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa (left) and the Airtel logo COURTESY
Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa (left) and the Airtel logo COURTESY

The Central Bank of Kenya in a press release on Tuesday, October 11, announced the separation of Airtel Money from the service provider's telecommunications company.

This is a culmination of  the separation and transfer of the mobile money business from the network provider to become a stand alone entity, and will be operating under the Airtel Money Kenya Limited(AMKL).

"The completion of this restructuring enables AMKL to ring-fence its operations and focus exclusively on its mobile money business. Significantly, this sets the foundation for AMKL to enhance governance over its mobile money business, strengthen its operations and offer better services to its customers," the statement shared by the CBK read.

The move that was initiated in 2019 was welcomed by the national lender, as it gives AMKL independence to self govern in its operations and offer better services to its customers seeing that it was given a licence to operate as a single entity in the beginning of the year.

"CBK licensed AMKL as a Payment Service Provider (PSP)in line with the National Payments System Act, 2011 on January 21, 2022, and also granted a transition period to complete the transaction," the statement continued.

This hence means that the two conglomerates will be operating under Airtel Africa.

Kenya's telco giant Safaricom is now feeling the pressure as the call  to split from mobile money business MPesa continues to grow, with many seeking to have the two entities separated to enable better customer service as well as increase regulation by the CBK.

Dagoretti Member of Parliament John Kiarie is among those championing the separation, arguing that although some companies are registered as communication companies, they double up as banks.

This therefore means that they are only regulated by the Communications Authority (CA), and are not regulated by the Central Bank despite the numerous money transactions by customers.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa has since revealed that the separation of the two businesses will see the creation of a holding company, which will manage the telco’s mobile money services, towers, data services, and the recently launched Ethiopian arm, possibly in 2023.

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