Table of Contents
Ethio Telecom soon to connect to Gulf2Africa cable
Ethiopia is one of the last countries in Africa allowing its national telco, Ethio Telecom, a monopoly on all telecom services including fixed, mobile, internet and data communications. This monopolistic control has stifled innovation, restricted network expansion and limited the scope of services on offer. A management contract with Orange Group had dramatically improved performance for Ethio Telecom though there remain weaknesses in quality of service. Although the contract was considered a first step towards privatisation and the introduction of competition, the government in 2013 again rejected calls to privatise the incumbent and allow market competition, citing the need for higher profits from the company to subsidise an unrelated railway project.
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. Under the auspices of the government's Growth and Transformation Plan, the country could have some 103 million mobile subscribers by 2020, as well as 56 million internet subscribers.
The countrys broadband market is also set to develop further following massive 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; international internet bandwidth increased 60% in 2015 to exceed 22Gb/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.
Market penetration rates in Ethiopia's telecoms sector 2016 (e)
Penetration of telecoms services: | Penetration
Fixed-line telephony | 1.0%
Internet users | 4.2%
Mobile SIM (population) | 48.3%
Companies mentioned in this report:
Ethio Telecom (formerly Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation, ETC), EthioNet, Ethio Mobile, Orange Group, Tecno Telecom, Smadl, Tana Communication, Thuraya.
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