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Gas Stations in Addis Start Digital Fuel Transactions ahead of Nationwide Rollout

ADDIS ABABA – Fuel transactions at gas stations in Addis Ababa have gone digital ahead of the planned nationwide rollout as part of a push to modernize the transport sector.

After months of tests, all 153 gas stations in the capital started implementing the mandatory fuel transactions through digital payment platforms on Monday.

The move has created a new avenue of competition for financial institutions offering digital payment services.

Currently, there are eight payment system operators in the country where 31 commercial banks operate.

The major competition, however, is expected to be between the two state-owned firms – Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) and Ethio Telecom.

CBE’s digital mobile banking services including CBE Birr App has 7.9 million active members while Ethio Telecom’s TeleBirr mobile money system boasts 31 million users.

On Tuesday, CBE officials launched a revamped CBE Birr App to enable customers use the platform for transactions at gas stations along with a new dedicated platform called FuelApp.

Both apps have become active for drivers in Addis to use in fuel transactions, President of CBE Abie Sano said on Tuesday.

The two platforms will serve along with other digital payment systems.

The gas stations started the digital fuel transactions using the TelebBirr as means of payment collection for all their sales.

“We are providing the required support to enable drivers to transact through telebirr with ease,” Ethio Telecom said on Monday.

The recently upgraded TeleBirr SuperApp allows drivers to make payment electronically and receive receipts after fueling up.

The mandatory fuel digital transactions in the capital will serve as pilot for the planned nationwide rollout on June 8.

The success of the national rollout requires collaborative efforts of all parties involved, said Berio Hassen, state minister of the Ministry of Transport and Logistics (MoTL).

The government decided to make the digital fuel transactions at the gas stations mandatory as part of a response to tackle the growing contrabands.

Ethiopia’s highly subsidized petrol products are often a target of smugglers who trafick the products to neighboring countries’ markets.

A TeleBirr backed National Fuel Subsidy System has been activated since July 8, 2022 to monitor the fuel stations across the country.

The scheme also aims to ease transport cost for low-income households by subsidising 208, 217 vehicles providing public transport services in the country.

Nearly 191, 000 vehicles have so far enrolled in the subsidy program in the past nine months and are settling their payments through Telebirr.

Their total fuel transactions via TeleBirr were valued at more than 36.8 billion Birr by Ethio Telecom, benefiting worth 10.7 Billion Birr worth of subsidies.

This trial will be followed by a nationwide rollout planned for July 8. On the same day, the federal government expects to finish phasing out fuel subsidies at the pump sparing public transport.

Currently, there are 1,439 gas stations across the country, serving nearly two million vehicles.

And 1,117 of them are offering electronic payment option for drivers with the help of TeleBirr, says the Ethio Telecom.

The telco is among the three partners in the National Fuel Subsidy System along with the MoTL and Ethiopian Petroleum Supply Enterprise.