Safaricom becomes Ethiopia’s first private network operator

Safaricom has launched in Ethiopia to become the country’s first private operator.

Ethiopia is currently dominated by state-owned Ethio Telecom, which caters to the continent’s second most populous country of 118 million citizens. 

The Kenyan Safaricom has now switched on its network and services in Addis Ababa, the country’s capital, after pilots in 10 cities. The operator said it plans to rollout a national network to 14 additional cities by April 2023. 

The launch was initially scheduled for April, but was delayed as a result of logistical challenges and a surge in Covid-19 cases. 

Safaricom serves as the face of the network, but its business structure is a consortium which includes the likes of Vodacom and Vodafone.

Commenting on the launch, Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said: “We are optimistic about how the technology and connectivity we are providing will contribute to a digital future and eventually transform people’s lives.”

The expansion of Safaricom into Ethiopia comes after a failed attempt from prime minister Abiy Ahmed to partially privatise Ethio Telecom – a move which was postponed indefinitely in March of this year.

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