Ethiopianauthorities have been looking to liberalize the telecom market managed by Ethio Telecom for two decades. However, as of late, the company has registered significant achievements. Ethio Telecom announced earnings of $1.3 billion in the 2019/20 fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2019, to June 30 2020.
During a press conference, Ethio Telecom’s Chief Executive Officer Frehiwot Tamiru said: “This is an outstanding performance”, according to the Reporter. She also added that due to the efforts that took place aiming to reduce tariffs and to control illegal telecom operators, the company generated $147.7 million from international services, states the same source. However, due to the pandemic, there was no demand for roaming.
The report states that Ethio Telecom has donated a significant amount to the nationwide effort to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. “The Ministry of Innovation has requested us $600,000 for the research and I am proud to announce that we have provided them with the first round of payment. I had a discussion with the minister recently and he told me that the research is bearing fruitful results and it is on the final stage, said Frehiwot Tamiru, according to The Reporter.
The Ethiopian government’s strict control over the Internet and mobile services has contributed to the Internet and phone shutdown over the past few years. However, during the pandemic, the company has provided free internet access aiming to secure the online learning experience. Previously, the Internet shutdown had cost the country an arm and a leg.
Ethiopia is the second most-populous African country after Nigeria. Ethio Telecom states that its number of subscribers has reached 46.2 million.
Inside Telecom has already reported on Ethiopia’s plans to liberalize the telecom sector. Two telecom licenses were set to be granted to foreign telecom investors aiming to increase competition. In May 2020, the Ethiopian government invited international telecom operators to buy a 40% stake in Ethio Telecom. On June 26, 2020, The Ethiopian Telecommunications Authority (ETA) announced it has received nine submissions from telecom operators and two from non-telecom operators. Both Safaricom and Vodacom have expressed interest in Africa’s largest telecom market. Reform in the telecom industry is crucial as competition allows Ethiopians to gain access to the best services.
China’s telecom giants Huawei and ZTE have been deploying telecom infrastructure in Ethiopia. China’s involvement in the Ethiopian telecom sector could have a serious impact on the country following US sanctions.