Southern African telecoms giant Vodacom Group will buy a 34.94% stake in Kenyan operator Safaricom – known for its ground-breaking M-Pesa mobile money system – from mutual holding company Vodafone for ZAR34,6-billion (about $2,6-billion).
Calling Safaricom a “prized asset on the African continent,” Vodacom now has a significant footprint in Kenya, where Safaricom has an estimated 71% of the mobile market and some 19-million M-Pesa users. M-Pesa is widely seen as the poster child of mobile innovation in Africa and the most innovative mobile money system in the world. An estimated 40% of Kenya’s GDP passes through M-Pesa every day.
Vodafone, which owns 65% of South Africa-based Vodacom, will still own 5% of Safaricom, in which Kenya’s government still owns 35%.