Kenya’s Safaricom will start a joint venture with Vodacom to acquire the intellectual property rights to the popular M-Pesa mobile financial services platform from Britain’s Vodafone, Safaricom’s CEO said on Thursday.
The 12 million euro ($13.4 million) deal will let both purchasers make significant savings in royalties paid to Vodafone and expand the service to new African markets, said Bob Collymore, Safaricom’s CEO.
Vodacom, a South African operator which owns 35 percent of Safaricom, pays 5 percent in an intellectual property fee to Vodafone from its M-Pesa business, which is mainly in Tanzania.
“More important than the significant savings is about us determining the future, the roadmap of M-Pesa because at the moment the roadmap is determined by Vodafone,” Collymore said.
Safaricom’s plan to form a joint venture with Vodacom and acquire the intellectual property rights to M-Pesa still requires regulatory and shareholder approvals in South Africa. It also requires regulatory approval in Kenya, Collymore said.
“We are putting everything in place just subject to getting the right approvals,” he said, adding the joint venture should be set up and the deal with Vodafone completed this year.
Safaricom Chief executive Bob Collymore recently said he will not retire as expected.
Mr Collymore said the telco had extended his term for a year to allow him to compensate for his earlier absence out of medical leave.
“I will be at the company till 2020,” said Mr. Collymore in a briefing with reporters Thursday on the sidelines of The Africa Shared Value Summit held in Nairobi.
Mr. Collymore, a Guyana-born British citizen, 61, took charge of Safaricom in 2010 on a three-year contract after the company’s founding CEO, Michael Joseph, retired.