Digital Limits

Cellulant’s new CEO plans Ethiopia entry focused on offline payments

By David Whitehouse

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Posted on October 26, 2021 13:10

A trader cleans his boutique stall as he opens it after protests which disrupted business, in Addis Ababa © A boutique stall in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Maheder Haileselassie
A boutique stall in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Maheder Haileselassie

Kenya’s Cellulant is prioritising offline rather than online payments as it enters Ethiopia, newly appointed CEO Akshay Grover tells The Africa Report.

Cellulant plans to start operations in Ethiopia early next year, initially in Addis Ababa with a view to wider expansion, Grover says from Nairobi. He took over as Cellulant CEO on 1 October after previously holding the job on an acting basis.

Ethiopia offers an “interesting mix” of opportunities in offline and small-business payments, Grover says. One aim is to provide in-store payment solutions for retailers. “The number of small merchants in Ethiopia is very large,” Grover says. “We want to focus on this part of the business.”

Competition in Africa’s payments industry has focused on online payments, leaving an attractive, underserved offline market, Grover argues.

Ethiopia’s levels of financial inclusion are among the lowest in the world. According to a paper from the Centre for Global Development (CGD) in Washington in July, the use of cash payments in Ethiopia is well above the

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