Ethiopia - Country Commercial Guide

Describes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and covers prominent B2B websites.

Last published date: 2022-07-21

Electronic commerce is in its infancy in Ethiopia and is rarely used. The Government of Ethiopia (GOE) is preparing a draft national law to govern e-Commerce. Ethiopian banks use debit cards and automated teller machines (ATM) but have not begun to issue credit cards. Most Ethiopians do not have credit cards and internet connections are slow, expensive and unreliable. However, internet service has recently improved as a result of Ethiopia’s connection to Seacom’s underground/sea fiberoptic cable through Djibouti. ATMs are interconnected with international banking networks. International ATM cardholders are able to withdraw funds from any ATM machine of the 23 commercial banks operating in Ethiopia. ET Switch S.C., a share company owned by the commercial banks, was created to improve bank-to-bank integration. According to sources at ET Switch S.C., the service is used by over 10 million ATM card holders across the country. 

Ethio telecom, a publicly owned telecom and internet services providing company launched an online payment application called telebirr a year ago. Telebirr allows users to deposit cash, send money, receive payment and withdraw cash. Customers can also use telebirr to buy airtime and packages, pay with telebirr for utilities and traffic penalties; buy airtime and pay for merchants. In less than one year, telebirr became very popular and has over 17 million subscriber. 

Ethiopian banks have started using primary internet transactions through mobile, internet and card banking services. These technologies followed the launch of centralized, online real-time, electronic banking solutions that have increased customers. There is still a long way to go to improve the digital financial services delivery system. Currently, foreign firms are engaged as technology service providers for various financial inclusion projects of the GOE.  At present, Ethiopia has drafted and tabled a proclamation to permit, regulate and monitor e-commerce operations in Ethiopia to the Parliament