Safaricom drops interest in Ethio Telcom after securing license

Safaricom drops interest in Ethio Telcom after securing license

Safaricom Plc in no longer interested in a stake in Ethiopia’s state-owned Ethio Telecom after a consortium it leads won a license to operate in the country. Speaking at a virtual press briefing on Tuesday, Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said the desire for a stake in Ethiopia’s only telco firm has been overtaken by events and they are now keen on becoming a worthy competitor in the market. The Kenyan telco had in October 2019 expressed interest in the Ethiopian firm currently in the final stages of partial privatisation as the government opens up its telecommunication sector.
 
“We are looking at all options. We either buy a stake in Ethio Telecom or seek a licence to start operations in Ethiopia,” then Safaricom acting CEO and current chairman Michael Joseph said at the time.
On Saturday, the Safaricom led consortium that includes its parent firms Vodafone and Vodacom, British development finance agency CDC Group and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation won the licence to operate in the landlocked nation after submitting a financial bid of $850 million (Sh92 billion).
Yesterday, Safaricom said it was now awaiting for clearance before rushing to have a slice of the market currently boasting over 50 million mobile phone users.
 
“We don’t have the exact date when we will enter the market but we are ready,” Ndegwa said.
He added that the telco is keen in creating a social-economic transformation that will deliver at least a million jobs created in the first few years of operation in Ethiopia and support three to four million small scale businesses.
He said that although Ethio Telecom has a head start for voice and recently launched mobile money services, Safaricom and its partners have a wealth of experience in their respective spaces that up service delivery in the market.
 
Early this month, Ethio Telecom launched a mobile money transfer service a move aimed at going ahead of Safaricom’s M-Pesa.
According to the state-owned mobile phone operator, telebirr, will mark a shift for Ethiopia, where the banking system is seen as inefficient with 19 commercial banks serving a population of about 115 million.
The company aims to attract 21 million users for the service in its first year of operations, rising to 33 million in five years.
 
Ethiopia is working on the Homegrown Economic Reform programme which accommodates both the opportunities of the free market and the role of the state to address the country’s economic challenges—although with a tilt towards the non-state sector.
 
The programme envisages boosting the private sector’s contribution to the overall economy by opening up major public enterprises starting with the telecommunication sector.
Apart from Ethio Telecom, other state entities lined up for privatisation include Ethiopian Airlines, Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, and Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprises.
– The Star


Interview: Huawei eyes nurturing aspiring young Ethiopian tech talent

ADDIS ABABA, May 26 (Xinhua) — Chinese tech giant Huawei is eyeing nurturing aspiring young Ethiopian technology talent, said Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Ji Hui at Huawei Northern Africa region, Wednesday.

Speaking exclusively to Xinhua, Ji said Huawei is nurturing Ethiopian tech talent that can add value to the east African country’s economy through innovative technology solutions.

Ji was speaking on the sidelines of the sixth Global Huawei ICT competition Ethiopia edition, which annually brings the brightest brains and most innovative ideas from across Ethiopia and the wider globe.

The winners among 170,000 student participants from more than 40 countries around the world will have the opportunity to represent their country in the 2022 Huawei ICT competition global finals.

The Huawei ICT young talent program is part of the Chinese tech giant’s global Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

“This is the third round of competition for Ethiopia. This is the first year we introduced the innovation track, previously we cared more about the knowledge competition, but this year we added more elements of innovation, basically what you can do to add value to the economy and to the ICT industry,” Ji told Xinhua. “We’ve previously sent more than 30 students from Ethiopia to China for two-week training programs, to help turn their technological ideas into realities.”

Ji praised the increasing presence of young Ethiopian women aspirants in Huawei’s annual ICT competition.

The CFO for Huawei Northern Africa region also disclosed the Chinese tech giant is committed to deepening its involvement in Ethiopia’s ICT sector, now that Ethiopia has started to liberalize its telecom sector.

“The Ethiopian government can help the economy to have more growth momentum besides traditional ways of boosting growth,” Ji said. “The Ethiopia Ministry of Finance recent granting of a new license to telecom operators will boost the number of private ICT firms in the east African country which has a large young population and is also a huge marketplace.”

On Saturday, Ethiopia awarded the country’s first telecom license to a Vodacom Group Consortium which had offered 850 million U.S. dollars license fee.

Ethiopia’s telecom industry is considered as a huge untapped market, as the east African country has the second highest number of population in Africa, only surpassed by Nigeria.

Ethiopia is also undertaking extensive telecom modernization services with the help of Chinese firms as part of the east African country’s aim of realizing digital inclusion and boosting the size of its digital economy, with the provision of reliable, high band-width and high-speed telecom services. Enditem