Kenya-led consortium to invest $3bn in Ethiopia’s telecoms network

An Ethio Telecoms mast in Mekelle. Safaricom Ethiopia will be its first private sector competitor (A.Savin/FAL 1.3)
A consortium led by Kenyan telecoms company Safaricom has said it will invest some $3bn in Ethiopia over the next 10 years, mainly in data centres and mobile phone infrastructure, and also to recruit and train staff, tech website Capacity reports

The announcement comes two weeks after the Nairobi-based company switched on its mobile network in Addis Ababa, and began offering 2G, 3G and 4G services in 10 other cities. This makes it the first company to compete with Ethio Telecom, Ethiopia’s state-owned carrier. 

The company plans to launch services in 25 cities by April. This will offer coverage to a quarter of Ethiopia’s population, and meet one of the main conditions of its licence to operate.

The Ethiopian government is pursuing its Digital Ethiopia 2025 plan, launched in June 2020. It aims to bring the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution – AI, the Internet of Things and big data – to the country.

Safaricom’s Ethiopian subsidiary is owned by a consortium that includes Vodafone, Japanese investor Sumitomo and the UK government’s development funder, British International Investment. This is the first joint investment project to be realised under a strategic alliance agreed between Vodafone and Sumitomo in November 2020.

Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom’s chief executive, said in a press statement that he looked forward to bringing “a sustainable and quality mobile network … to over 118 million Ethiopians”.

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