Safaricom to start commercial operations in Ethiopia next month

Thursday July 07 2022

Safaricom set to start commercial services in Ethiopia in August. PHOTO | FILE


Safaricom on Thursday announced that it will start commercial services in Ethiopia in August.

The company, part of the Vodafone group, has been under mounting pressure over its failure to meet previous launch target in April 2022.

At a press conference on Thursday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Safaricom said “it is on course to a phased launch of its network and services in the country and is conducting rigorous tests to ensure the provision of quality services.”

The phased commercial launch will commence from August 2022, switching on the network in 25 cities across the country by April 2023.

“Safaricom Ethiopia is looking forward to switching on our network and services, starting with Dire Dawa from August 2022 and 24 other cities in phases across the country in the coming months,” Matthew Harrison-Harvey, chief external affairs and regulatory officer, told journalists.

“Currently, we are in a testing period to ensure that when we switch on, we will deliver a quality experience for Ethiopians. We are working to fulfil our commitment to building the long-term foundations for our contribution to Ethiopia’s digital transformation and inclusion objectives to transform lives for a digital future.”


Safaricom further said the implementation of the infrastructure sharing deal with Ethio-telecom is “progressing well”.

“We are happy with the telecom infrastructural sharing agreement,” Harrison-Harvey said.

In April, Safaricom reached an agreement with Ethio-telecom to share cell sites, interconnection and tower assets in Ethiopia.

Since the granting of the licence in July 2021, the company has invested in its network and building infrastructure, including its own mobile radio towers, national transmission network, and wholesale agreements for international connectivity.

“We have invested $1 billion (including the Telecoms Licence fee); imported equipment worth over $300 million; developed our core network, IT, products, and services; set up a call centre; [and] built 2 Data Centres,” Safaricom said.

In addition to the infrastructure, the company has also appointed a management team and experts for commercial launch, providing professional and skills development to employees. It has recruited 500 staff, 320 of whom are Ethiopians.

Safaricom, the first private telecom company in Ethiopia, says it is a purpose-led technology and communication company committed to contributing to Addis Ababa’s digital transformation and inclusion agenda.  

The Global Partnership for Ethiopia—which comprises Safaricom Plc, Vodacom Group, Vodafone Group, Sumitomo Corporation, and British International Investment (formerly known as CDC Group)—was awarded a licence to operate telecom services in Ethiopia in July 2021. The group then registered Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia PLC.