By Mark Kawalya
Safaricom Ethiopia officially turned on its mobile network services in Addis Ababa, rolling out 2G, 3G and 4G mobile bands in 11 cities, including the country’s second largest city, Dire Dawa.
The Ethiopian government launched the Digital Ethiopia 2025; an initiative that seeks to enable the country to realize its digital potential by leveraging and harnessing the power of technology to build a society that is well developed.
Safaricom Ethiopia’s network went live on October 6, 2022, after the firm had carried out a series of network pilots in 10 cities, the firm indicated in a statement.
A few hours later, Ethiopia’s Minister of Finance, Ahamed Shide, made an announcement that the government had granted Safaricom Ethiopia an operating license.
The telecoms CEO, Anwar Soussa, revealed that it would take about two to three months for the firm’s mobile money service to be rolled out.
In accordance with that move, Safaricom Ethiopia was granted a nationwide full-service Unified Telecommunications Service License. The licenses have enabled Safaricom to become the first firm in Ethiopia to offer a mobile service that competes with state-owned Ethio Telecom.
An international consortium owns Safaricom Ethiopia and includes Sumitomo Corporation, Vodafone Group, Safaricom PLC and British International Investment (BII).
Safaricom Ethiopia management says the firm has plans to launch its services in 25 Ethiopian cities by April 2023, in accordance with its population coverage obligation that is stipulated in its license. The firm is currently developing a privately-owned mobile network, although it has an infrastructure sharing and interconnection agreement with Ethio Telecom.
Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom PLC’s CEO said “For two decades, Safaricom PLC has combined the power of technology and our innovative spirit to solve customer and societal challenges. Led by our Purpose to Transform Lives, we have deepened digital and financial inclusion in Kenya by connecting people to people, people to opportunities and people to information. With these lessons and experiences, we look forward to positively impacting the people of Ethiopia with a sustainable and quality mobile network that will be a vital launch pad for nationwide digital telecommunications services to over 118 million Ethiopians.”
Safaricom PLC is the largest telecommunication company in East Africa with a mandate of transforming lives by offering services that connect people to people, people to information and people to opportunities. The firm keeps 38 million subscribers connected through it mobile and data services.