Mobile money & liberalize telecom landmark Ethiopia gambling sector

Ethiopia, the second-most populous country in Africa, Ethiopia’s youth population is an incredible asset, and untapped resources for possible growth, 41 per cent is under the age of 15. More than 28 per cent is aged 15 to 29 in the country.

The most common form of Gambling is legal from casinos to sports betting and lottery. Ethiopia, as the potentials to be a force, to reckon with in Africa gambling industry based on their stable economy, and population. Unlike the other prominent African countries in the gambling sector, i.e. South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya which has the most significant gaming revenue in Africa.

Perhaps, one of the grey areas that as being one of the challenges of Ethiopia gambling industry, The poor internet connectivity as well as low internet penetration, which stood at merely 5% despite having one of the youngest population in Africa. While the non-existence of the mobile money service provider, while the banking sector and microfinance bank are the sole provider of mobile money service in the country. Despite the massive penetration of smartphone usage in Africa, which stood at a staggering 641 million subscribers in 2018 will rise to 871 million by the close of 2025.

Perhaps given the fact that most African countries are going digital in all sectors of the economy, Ethiopia is one of the countries in Africa that have been slow to benefits from the transition of global digitization. For example, in 2012 Dagoo Sports Betting Plc received a license from the National Lottery Administration. The aim was to provide online sports betting; indeed, the online sports betting platform is no longer in operation due to poor internet connectivity in the country.

However, all will begin to change in a few months, early this year, the country announced its intentions to privatize the telecom and reform the financial sector. As reported by the Ethiopia local publication agency, the government said it is willing to sell the equity of 49 per cent stake in the Ethio telecom the national provider of telecommunications in Ethiopia. According to the country, Finance Minister said US institution had expressed interest to invest in the telecoms sector, which he said the acquisition would complete in the next 4 to 6 months.

Going forward he further said several companies as expressed interest in the telecoms auction in the Ethio Telecom, some of which are MTN Group Ltd, Vodacom Group Ltd, and Orange SA among others. The financial sector is another sector the government recently reformed by directing the central bank to allow non-financial institutions to offer mobile-money services. That will permit customers to receive, save, credit, any other essential activities online this will effectively opening up the lucrative business opportunities to sportsbook operators and other business activities in the country.

However, initially gambling operators encounter a lot of challenges where it is often seen bettors find it challenging to stake with their mobile device due to lack of mobile financial service and poor internet connectivity. However, with this landmark it will further open the sports betting sector of Ethiopia gambling industry as well as bring that comfort and flexibility to bettors that will increase gambling revenue and attract online sportsbook operators to target the industry. Which as been ravage with so many challenges over the years and part of the government plan is upgrading the Horn of Africa financial system as well as is raft approach to reform its economy which aimed at attracting more foreign investment.

Article by Adeleye Awakan to know more about the African gaming industry, please feel free to contact me on any of this channels: E-mail: [email protected] on Linkedin: AdeleyeAwakan, Twitter: @AdeleyeAwakan, Instagram: adeleyeawakan.

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