Safaricom introduced its mobile network in Ethiopia on October 6, 2022, becoming the first private operator in one of Africa’s largest telecom markets. Until now, Ethio telecom, a state-owned telecommunications corporation had a monopoly in Ethiopia which is the second most populous country in Africa with an estimated population of around 100 million people.
Ahmed Shinde, Ethiopia’s finance minister, stated that the government had allowed the company a license to operate a mobile money service after Safaricom Ethiopia switched on its network and its services in the capital Addis Ababa following network pilots in 10 cities. Safaricom leads a syndicate entering the market including shareholders Britain’s Vodaphone, South Africa’s Vodafone, and Safaricom PLC.
Vodafone operates mobile and fixed networks in 21 countries along with partnering in 47 more countries. Vodafone has over 300 million mobile customers and 28 million fixed broadband customers, becoming the world leader in the Internet of Things (IoT). Vodafone assisted in revolutionizing fintech in Africa through M-Pesa. Vodacom is a member of the Vodafone Group and is a leading African communications company that provides a variety of communications services including messaging, financial services, data, mobile and fixed voice. The firm converged services to 123.7 million customers.
CEO of Vodafone Group, Nick Read states the firm is excited to be a part of the consortium that moves forward with a strong vision to improve Ethiopia’s inclusive digital society that brings in much higher opportunities for education and prosperity. Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom Group says that the partnership for the global consortium has worked along with the Government of Ethiopia to bring forward a fully digitalized era.
Anwar Soussa, Chief Executive officer of Safaricom Ethiopia stated that for the firm to begin its operations like mobile money service, 2-3 months would be required. The networking which was set to begin in April was delayed due to coronavirus and logistical challenges the company faced. Safaricom CEO Peter Ngewda states that the company is positive about the changes that technology and connectivity will bring about and assist in the building of a digital future and ultimately transforming people’s life. Safaricom launched its first mobile phone-based money transfer service around 15 years ago.
The firm’s business known as M-Pesa contributed to receiving about half of the company’s yearly revenue. The government earlier announced its plans to partially privatize Ethio Telecom after prime minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018 but decided to defer the plan due to economic challenges. In the event held by Safaricom Ethiopia on Thursday, Kenyan President stated that the mobile money licensing was not agreed upon when he departed from Nairobi initially but had an aim to come back with a deal.
The Ethiopian government launched Digital Ethiopia to improve the country’s digital potential and make use of the technology available to build a better future and more prosperous society. As a part of realizing this goal, Safaricom Ethiopia was granted Unified Telecommunications Service License, a nationwide full service, and becomes the first company in the country to launch a mobile service, competitive with Ethio telecom. Changes in Ethiopia’s telecommunications industry are a big step towards liberalizing the economy. The efforts to open up the economy have had setbacks due to socio-political instability.
About Safaricom Ethiopia
Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia PLC is a company that supports the digital transformation of Ethiopia. The company’s mobile services including 2G, 3G, and 4G services are now available in 11 cities including the country’s second-largest city Dire Dawa, and Addis Ababa which is the capital of Ethiopia. By April 2023, the company plans to launch its services in 25 cities thus expanding its services and also meeting the 25% population coverage obligations in its license. The firm is focused on building a fully owned mobile network and has interconnection agreements with Ethio Telecoms.