Orascom’s Burundi Unit to Start Mobile Banking to Add Customers

Leo Burundi, a unit of Orascom Telecom Holding SAE, wants to quadruple subscribers to its mobile phone cash-transfer platform by the end of the year as it introduces financial-services products.

A partnership with Interbank Burundi SA will allow clients to deposit money into savings accounts and make withdrawals using their mobile phones, Laurent Ndayikeza, a manager, said. U.S.-based Obopay Inc., has been hired to provide a secure Internet connection and servers to process transactions, he told reporters today in the capital, Bujumbura.

“This will help Leo Burundi and the Burundian government to increase the financial inclusion rate,” Ndayikeza said. The company is aiming for 200,000 customers on its Leo Manoti mobile-phone payment service by end-December, from 55,000 now.

The coffee-exporting nation of 8 million people has a mobile phone penetration rate of about 24 percent, and Leo Burundi has a 60 percent market share, according to the telecommunications regulatory authority. Competitors include Econet Wireless Holdings’ Burundian unit, state-owned Onatel, Lacell SU and Africell Holding SAL, a unit of VTEL Holdings Ltd. of Dubai.