Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Hibret Bank & Mastercard launch prepaid card in Ethiopia

Hibret Bank, in collaboration with Mastercard, has announced the launch of the Prepaid Hibir Mastercard services, marking a significant move towards financial digitisation in Ethiopia.

This service is designed to offer customers unparalleled convenience and security in international card banking experiences, enabling them to access and utilize foreign currency for overseas travels and international transactions wherever Mastercard is accepted.

 Melaku Kebede, Chief Executive Officer of Hibret Bank, said, “At Hibret Bank, strategic alliances and technology are not just part of our operations; they are what drive us forward. Launching the Prepaid Hibir Mastercard in collaboration with Mastercard is a testament to this, marking a significant step towards our mission of digital financial inclusion. By leveraging our in-house technological capabilities for projects like our mobile banking app and core banking system upgrades, we not only foster local innovation but also enhance our service security and customer experience.”

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The Prepaid Hibir Mastercard has a dual-interface feature supporting both contact and contactless transactions, making it a convenient financial tool for both ATM withdrawals and point-of-sale purchases. The card also has a reloadable feature allowing customers to top up funds at any Hibret Bank branch as needed, providing a secure and user-friendly solution to meet the evolving needs of customers engaging in foreign trade, travel, and other cross-border transactions.

Shehryar Ali, Senior Vice President and Country Manager for East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands at Mastercard said, “Our collaboration with Hibret Bank for the Prepaid Hibir Mastercard service is a reflection of our commitment to fostering financial inclusion and digitization not just in Ethiopia, but across Africa. This service is more than just a payment solution; it is a bridge for Ethiopians to access the global market with ease and security.”

The launch of the Prepaid Hibir Mastercard is backed by Premier Switch Solutions, Ethiopia’s trusted third-party processor that powers electronic transactions between banks, including Hibret Bank, guaranteeing a secure and efficient experience.

The initiative not only aims to enhance customer banking experiences and support the growth of digital financial services, it  also contributes significantly to the national economy by promoting financial inclusion in  Ethiopia, which currently stands at 46 percent and aims for 70 percent by 2025.  

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Ethiopia’s transition to green mobility encounters headwinds amid economic slowdown

Ethiopia inaugurated its biggest electric vehicle factory in Debre Berhan in the Amhara region on Tuesday, as part of an ambitious strategy to turn the country into a leading player in green mobility on the continent.

But this latest development comes as the Ethiopian government faces economic challenges and limited financial capacity that has delayed the completion of government priority projects scattered around the country. This includes the USD five billion Grand Renaissance Dam, which would help upgrade the electricity network needed to power a rising influx of EVs.

With the Horn of Africa nation facing a large economic deficit, skeptics are questioning if Ethiopia has the capability or the resources to execute such an ambitious project. Addis Ababa is displacing citizens and gutting neighborhoods to pave the way for skyscrapers and EV charging stations, part of an effort to make the capital “The East African Dubai.”

Ethiopia’s 10-year Perspective Development Plan calls on the government to import 4,800 electric buses and 148,000 electric cars. Last year, Ethiopia banned the import of non-electric cars and offered a new tax exemption for the import of electric cars as part of a green legacy project initiated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The local automobile market is currently saturated with Chinese imported electric vehicles, with Chinese brands such as BYD and Jetour gaining popularity.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Transport announced last month that it had managed to bring in more than 100,000 electric cars and built 60 charging stations across the capital.

The new factory was built by a local entrepreneur, Belayneh Kinde, at a cost of more than USD 52 million. It is expected to produce around 1,000 cars a year.

It is not the first of its kind in Ethiopia. In 2020, Ethiopian businessman and Olympian Haile Gebreselassie started an assembly plant to produce electric cars locally for the first time in partnership with South Korea’s Hyundai motor company. However, the partner fizzled within a year after it faced constant shortages of foreign currency to import needed raw materials.

Sam Rosmarin, an American entrepreneur and policy advisor based in Addis Ababa, believes such initiatives herald multiple benefits for Ethiopia. “Increasing the number of electric cars is an excellent way to decrease Ethiopia’s dependence on imported petroleum, as well as reducing pollution in Addis Ababa from car exhaust fumes,” Rosmarin told Semafor Africa. “It helps the nation become less reliant on spare parts, since EV’s are generally lower maintenance and have cheaper operating costs for public transport when electric buses are used.”


Dashen Bank honored for micro-lending excellence at Africa Bank 4.0 Summit

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Dashen Bank has been recognized as the Best Bank in Micro-Lending at the 2024 Africa Bank 4.0 Summit. The accolade celebrates Dashen’s commitment to inclusive financial services, achieved in collaboration with Ethio-Telecom, EagleLion System Technologies, and Ethiopian Airlines.

Asfaw Alemu, CEO of Dashen Bank, hailed the award as a significant encouragement for the bank to enhance its services further. “This award is a testament to Dashen Bank’s dedication to ensuring financial inclusion,” Asfaw remarked, expressing gratitude to all stakeholders involved in the bank’s success.

The Africa Bank 4.0 Summit annually acknowledges outstanding services and technologies across the continent. This year, various institutions and individuals were honored in multiple categories.

Dashen Bank’s micro-lending services, facilitated in partnership with Ethio-Telecom, have supported diverse sectors across Ethiopia. Notably, the Dube-Ale service, a buy-now-pay-later scheme launched with EagleLion System Technologies, and the Fly Now-Pay Later initiative with Ethiopian Airlines, have empowered customers to access services, purchase goods, and travel globally with deferred payments.

In addition to this award, Dashen Bank has garnered international acclaim for its customer-centric services. Recently, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, recognized Dashen as an Outstanding Global Trade Finance Program Issuing Bank. Furthermore, Dashen received an award a few months ago for its Interest-Free Banking (Sharik) service.

(The Reporter)

Japan to help Ethiopia rebuild war-affected schools

A groundbreaking ceremony at Negash Primary School in Tigray marks a pivotal step in rebuilding education infrastructure in the conflict-affected regions of Tigray and Amhara. Initiated by UNICEF in 2023, with support from JICA and the Government of Japan, the project aims to restore school facilities, including Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) amenities, in 17 schools across the regions.

The initiative will benefit over 12,000 children and nearly 48,000 community members by providing a safe and conducive learning environment. Shibata Hironori, Japan’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, emphasized Japan’s commitment to supporting Ethiopia’s education sector.

Aboubacar Kampo, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia, highlighted the project’s role in restoring normalcy in conflict-affected areas. “UNICEF is extremely grateful to the Government of Japan for this generous contribution,” said Aboubacar Kampo, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia. “Reconstructing schools in conflict-affected regions is crucial for restoring normalcy and providing children with a safe and conducive environment for learning.”

Takano Shintaro, senior representative of JICA Ethiopia, noted that the project aligns with JICA’s values and the Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on education and sanitation. The collaborative effort aims to build a brighter future for Ethiopia’s children.

“Above all, we are excited to invest in building an environment that will allow children to learn, grow and one day give back to their communities.”

The project ceremony signifies a collaborative effort towards rebuilding educational infrastructure and fostering a brighter future for the children of Ethiopia.

(New Business)

Holy Synod criticizes Dialogue Commission for exclusion, calls for Church’s ‘formal’ participation

The Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) has expressed reservations regarding the recent conduct of the National Dialogue Commission. The Synod noted that the Commission has advanced its efforts without “formally inviting” the Church to participate.

In a statement issued following the conclusion of its bi-annual Holy Synod Plenary Session on June 6, 2024, the Synod acknowledged that the National Dialogue Commission was established with the intent of involving stakeholders to address national issues through dialogue and discussion, as stipulated by the founding proclamation.

However, the statement continued, “The Holy Synod has expressed concerns that the Commission has proceeded with its activities, including selecting participants and setting the agenda, without issuing a formal invitation for participation to the Church, which has historically played a crucial role in peacebuilding and reconciliation since the establishment of the nation.”

In light of this, the Holy Synod underscored the importance of “securing the Church’s right to participate and contribute its agenda through discussions” with the Commission. The Synod further announced the establishment of a committee dedicated to pursuing a formal role for the church within the Commission’s proceedings.

The statement from the Holy Synod was issued two days after the National Dialogue Commission announced the completion of a week of consultations in Addis Ababa.

These consultations aimed to gather proposed agendas from various groups across the capital’s 119 districts, including community representatives, government bodies, political parties, and associations.

Chief Commissioner Mesfin Araya stated that the agendas from Addis Ababa would contribute to broader national dialogues following similar regional consultations.

The Commission’s efforts have, however, been met with calls for the inclusion of additional key stakeholders, particularly armed groups currently engaged in conflict with the government.

Two opposition parties, the Enat Party and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP), have already announced their withdrawal from the process after initially agreeing to participate and submitting agendas. 

The Ethiopian Political Parties Joint Council has also issued a cautionary statement, emphasizing the potential for the dialogue to fail in the absence of comprehensive stakeholder involvement.

The Holy Synod’s statement issued a broader call for nationwide conflict resolution through dialogue.

The statement expressed the Holy Synod’s deep sorrow “by the continued loss of lives and destruction of property due to the conflicts, disagreements, and violence occurring throughout our country.”

It also emphasized the importance of establishing a “constructive working relationship between the Holy Church and the government under the leadership of the Holy Patriarch.” 

In his speech last week, Patriarch Abune Mathias I remarked that “love for appointment” and “materialism have reigned” within the ancient Church, which he described as facing “a serious challenge” from both internal and external factors.

“The suffering of the Church is not only from the outside but also from the inside; not only from aliens but also from friends,” the Patriarch cautioned, adding that powerful words counter to the religion’s spiritual culture are being used irresponsibly, intending to “reduce our voice and influence.” 


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