Somalia-based operator Hormuud Telecom has attained a globally recognised mobile money certification from trade body the GSMA, an achievement that paves the way for the operator to contribute to Somalia’s stability and focus on key growth areas.
Speaking to Developing Telecoms, chief executive Ahmed Mohamed Yusuf (pictured, third from right) highlighted how Somalia has “come a long way” in the past decade and sees emerging technologies such as mobile money as the key to aiding the country to rebuild.
Somalia is still recovering from a 31-year civil war that is technically still ongoing. Its infrastructure and state institutions were destroyed during the conflict but Somalia has shown signs of recovery with infrastructure being rebuilt.
However, the country still faces challenges and not having a stable currency is one of them. Around 95% of the Somali shilling is counterfeit, which pushed citizens to take up digital mobile financial services to buy basic goods and receive wages.
With citizens becoming ever more reliant on mobile money, it is important service providers invest in compliance and adopt best service practices to retain trust. Thinking big picture, Yusuf believes the new accreditation will set a blueprint for other providers to follow.
Hormuud received the GSMA Mobile Money certification for its EVC Plus mobile money platform which serves over 3 million customers, making Hormuud the first enterprise in the country to receive the award.
The operator joins sixteen other mobile money platforms in attaining the accreditation, including Safaricom MPESA, Orange Money, Vodafone MPESA and MTN MOMO. The award was presented to Yusuf at GSMA headquarters in London today (March 25).
Hormuud went through an 18-month trial with the trade body in which it completed assessments to compare its capabilities against industry best practices. These ranged from safeguarding funds, fraud prevention, security systems and data privacy.
“Mobile financial services are the most effective and fascinating technology right now to small businesses and individuals, it has pushed a complete transformation in Somalia,” Yusuf told Developing Telecoms.
Mobile financial services only launched in 2010 and Somalia moved from a cash society into a mainly digital one, claimed Yusuf.
Cross border growth plans
Looking ahead, Hormuud will be looking to Somalia’s landlocked neighbour Ethiopia for future growth. Specifically, Hormuud wants to sell wholesale broadband and data to licensed communications providers in the country within the next five years.
Yusuf noted Ethiopia’s large 100 million population is untapped potential which can drive growth for players that can successfully launch services there.
“Ethiopia is a market where we can be the source of data for fibre and we started already with laying down 500km of cables along the border.
“Because Ethiopia is landlocked they have difficulty securing data and rely on satellites, essentially they need us and we need them. It will be a substantial revenue driver for us and if all goes well it will contribute significantly to our growth. Our long term objective is to partner with Ethiopia and expand our cables into Ethiopia,” said Yusuf.