Ethiopia’s open up to new telecom operators enhances digital economy

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s opening up of telecommunication industry for new telecom service operators will facilitate its digital transformation efforts and attract related businesses, Innovation and Technology Digital Transformation Program Director Abiyot Bayou said.

Following Ethiopia’s telecom liberalization move, the global consortium made up of Safaricom, Vodafone, Japan’s Sumitomo, and UK finance agency CDC Group was awarded telecom operator license and expected to commence services in 2022, it was learned.

The director told ENA that the opening up for new telecom operators will lay the foundations essential for digital economic transformation and will positively affect the entire telecom related services and businesses in Ethiopia.

“The opening up of the telecom service for other new telecom service operators will not only positively affect the telecommunication sector, but will also bring positive impact on the entire service providers related to it,” Abiyot said.

The liberalization process, according to him, will scale up the status of the digital foundations, essential to further build digital economy in the country.

“In order to build digital economy,” Abiyot said “digital foundations such as infrastructures are essential as every service can be built upon these digital foundations.”

The investments on the digital foundations, he believes, will attract value adding businesses. “Businesses that add value using the telecom infrastructure will be showcased.”

The liberalization processes will be reflected in the country’s policy and will be crucial to gain experiences, create jobs and investments, he added.

Tarik Malik, CEO of Extensia, a company that provides essential support services to policymakers, regulators, service providers, major end users, and solution providers across the African Telecom and ICT Ecosystem, lauded Ethiopia’s encouraging move to liberalize long-time monopolized telecom industry.

“With the new liberalization process, we have a second operator, Safaricom Ethiopia, and that is going to be a fantastic move for Ethiopia, for Safaricom, and the Ethiopian public,” Tarik said.

“ICT telecom is main enabling service for change in Africa, for agriculture, health and education,” the CEO pointed out.

“Telecom plays very pivotal role in the government’s philosophy and strategy connecting Ethiopia and the African continent,” he added.

Stating that the operators will genuinely compete with best services, the CEO said, that will improve the infrastructure and services, especially by reaching the unconnected people in the vast rural areas to get affordable and reliable services.

“There will be better competition as two operators are looking to provide the best services, best networking, and other value added services are also very important for Ethiopia,” Tarik underscored.

“People need access to connectivity. Connectivity is essential. Rural areas need affordable and reliable connection. Telecom infrastructures also create jobs and bring social and economic development for the country.”

There are also overseas telecom operators interested to invest in the upcoming partial privatization of Ethio telecom, he disclosed.

“With the upcoming Ethio telecom privatization, we have overseas operators looking to invest into Ethio telecom and to fast-track it.”

He added “Ethio telecom is doing fantastic work at the moment, but has a lot more to do and with international best practices coming in, can only serve best in a win-win situation for the local and international markets.”

Ethiopia has started awarding license for new telecom operators and plans to partially privatize Ethio telecom.

The Ethiopian Herald November 2/2021

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