Safaricom Launches its Operations in Ethiopia

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Safaricom Ethiopia has switched on its mobile telecommunications network and services in Addis Ababa, the country’s capital city.

The Ethiopian government launched Digital Ethiopia 2025 to help the country realise its digital potential and leverage technology to build a more prosperous society.

As part of that process, Safaricom Ethiopia was granted a nationwide full-service Unified Telecommunications Service Licence and is the first company in the country to launch a competitive mobile service to Ethio Telecom, which is state-owned.

Safaricom Ethiopia’s 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services are available in 11 cities, including the capital and the country’s second largest city Dire Dawa. The company plans to launch services in a total of 25 cities by April 2023 to meet the 25% population coverage obligation in its licence. Safaricom Ethiopia is building a wholly-owned mobile network and also has infrastructure sharing and interconnection agreements in place with Ethio Telecom. Safaricom Ethiopia’s vision is to transform lives through a digital future for all Ethiopians.

Safaricom Ethiopia is owned by an international consortium including Vodafone Group; Safaricom PLC; Vodacom Group; Sumitomo Corporation – one of the largest international trading and business investment companies; and British International Investment (BII) – the UK’s development finance institution and impact investor.

Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom PLC, 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.”

Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone Group, said: “We are excited to be part of this highly experienced international consortium, with a strong vision to advance Ethiopia’s inclusive digital society, with clear goals to deliver greater prospects for education, jobs and prosperity.”

Shameel Joosub, CEO, Vodacom Group, said: “The Global Partnership for Ethiopia consortium has worked tirelessly together with the Government of Ethiopia to reach this exciting moment in Ethiopia’s history as the country embarks upon a fully digitalised era. I would like to congratulate Safaricom Ethiopia and all management, staff and partners involved in reaching this milestone as we seek to connect every Ethiopian to the global digital economy. Ubiquitous network connectivity will positively transform the lives of Ethiopians throughout the country, notably by making various Tech for Good solutions and services available in health, education, manufacturing, agriculture and digital finance.”

Toshikazu Nambu, Representative Director, Executive Vice President, Chief Digital Officer, Sumitomo Corporation, said: “We are pleased to have reached the significant milestone of the official launch of Safaricom Ethiopia’s national mobile network. Through this project, Sumitomo Corporation will contribute to Ethiopia‘s national development by providing its expertise in the telecommunications business and digital transformation know-how cultivated in Japan and other Asian countries. With the expansion of mobile phone use and the economic and human resource development, we will transform lives for a digital future, in line with the Digital Ethiopia 2025 strategy.”

Nick O’Donohoe, Chief Executive of BII, said: “The launch of Safaricom Ethiopia will deliver development impact at a country-wide level. It will transform the economic prospects for millions of Ethiopians and go a long way to alleviating data-poverty in the country.”


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