Safaricom, the Kenyan mobile operator, has activated its mobile telecommunications network and services in Addis Ababa.

To help the country realize its digital potential and use technology to create a more prosperous society, the Ethiopian government launched Digital Ethiopia 2025. As part of this process, Safaricom Ethiopia received a Unified Telecommunications Service Licence to provide its services throughout the entire country, making it the first private company to offer an alternative to the state-owned Ethio Telecom in the mobile market.

Starting today, eleven cities across Ethiopia, including the capital and the country’s second-largest city Dire Dawa, have access to Safaricom Ethiopia’s 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile services. The company must provide service to at least 25% of the population by April 2023, so it has announced plans to expand into 25 new markets before then. In addition to establishing its own wholly-owned mobile network, Safaricom Ethiopia has signed infrastructure-sharing and interconnection agreements with Ethio Telecom. The mission of Safaricom Ethiopia is to provide all Ethiopians with access to a better digital future.

In addition to the Vodafone Group, Safaricom PLC, Vodacom Group, and Sumitomo Corporation, which is one of the largest international trading and business investment companies, British International Investment (BII), which is the UK’s development finance institution and impact investor, owns Safaricom Ethiopia.

According to Safaricom PLC CEO Peter Ndegwa: “For two decades, Safaricom PLC has combined the power of technology and our innovative spirit to solve customer and societal challenges. Driven by our mission to improve people’s lives, we have expanded access to digital and financial services in Kenya. Using what we’ve learned, we hope to help the people of Ethiopia by constructing a reliable mobile network that can support the needs of the country’s over 118 million residents who will benefit greatly from access to high-speed, digital telecommunications”.

Vodafone Group Chief Executive Officer Nick Read 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, employment, and prosperity.”

During the event, Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub made the following statement: “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 on a fully digitalized era.” Safaricom Ethiopia has reached a major milestone in its mission to bring the entire country into the digital economy by providing its customers with access to high-speed Internet. The widespread availability of high-speed Internet access throughout Ethiopia will have a profoundly positive effect on the lives of its citizens by facilitating the spread of numerous “Tech for Good” solutions and services in sectors like healthcare, instruction, industry, agriculture, and finance”.

“We are pleased to have reached the significant milestone of the official launch of Safaricom Ethiopia’s national mobile network,” said Toshikazu Nambu, Representative Director, Executive Vice President, and Chief Digital Officer, Sumitomo Corporation.

By implementing its knowledge of the telecommunications industry and digital transformation gained in Japan and other Asian countries, Sumitomo Corporation will help advance Ethiopia’s national development through this project. Expanding mobile phone use and improving economic and human resources are two key components of the Digital Ethiopia 2025 strategy that will help usher in a digital future for the country.

“The launch of Safaricom Ethiopia will deliver development impact at the country level,” said Nick O’Donohoe, Chief Executive of BII. It will drastically improve the lives of millions of Ethiopians and help end the country’s data poverty crisis. “


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