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Ethio Telecom reports steady climb in subscriber base
Ethiopia is one of the last countries in Africa to allow its national telco a monopoly on all telecom services including fixed, mobile, internet and data communications. For many years Ethio Telecom’s monopolistic control stifled innovation, restricted network expansion and limited the scope of services on offer. However, a management contract with Orange Group has dramatically improved the company’s performance, though there remain weaknesses in quality of service. Although the contract was considered a first step towards sector privatisation and the introduction of competition, the government has rejected calls to progress along these lines, citing the need for higher profits from the company to subsidise unrelated projects.
Although there is considerable investment in telecoms services – some $3.1 billion has been invested in telecom infrastructure and service expansion projects over the last decade – the sector is heavily regulated and the government has complete control over networks, with virtually unlimited access to the call records of all phone users and to logs of internet traffic. Most of the technologies deployed have been provided by ZTE and Huawei, which have often been favoured for offering vendor financing.
Despite major vendor contracts aimed at improving the reach and capabilities of mobile networks, the country’s mobile penetration remains among the lowest in the world. Nevertheless, growth is strong and considerable growth potential remains. Policies have been guided by the government’s Growth and Transformation Plan.
The country's broadband market is also set to develop further following substantial increases in international bandwidth, improvements in national fibre backbone infrastructure and the growing availability of mobile broadband services via 3G and LTE networks. After years of low uptake due to prohibitive pricing, retail prices are now comparable to other more developed markets in the region.
Ethio Telecom partners with Gulf2Africa cable construction; government launches mobile apps as part of the e-Government Directorate; major changes anticipated in the second Growth and Development Plan to 2020; VAS licences issued; Ethio Telecom expands LTE reach, considers charging for OTT services; Ethio Telecom reports 33% increase in profit for H1 FY2016; cloned mobile phones to be disconnected from Ethio Telecom’s network by September 2018; international internet bandwidth increased 56% in 2016 to reach 35Gb/s; significant improvements in broadband affordability; Huawei and ZTE share a $1.6 billion contract to develop mobile infrastructure; MetEC begins delivery of smart meters to Ethiopian Electric Utility.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Ethio Telecom (formerly Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation, ETC), EthioNet, Ethio Mobile, Orange Group, Tecno Telecom, Smadl, Tana Communication, Thuraya.