Telcom users in Ethiopia saw last week a milestone event with the launching of a second operator breaking a monopoly enjoyed by the state-owned Ethio telecom for over a century. Safaricom Ethiopia Plc launched its services with spectacular fanfare, including the display of Addis Abeba's first drone light show at Mesqel Square, declaring: "Further Ahead Together."

"We're excited to have you and all of Ethiopia connected to the 07 network," a tweet on the Safaricom page reads.

The event was graced with the presence of Kenya's newly elected President, William Ruto. He made his first African visit since his election in August, joining Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at the launch held on Thursday, October 6. He was ushered to visit the Chinese-built Science Museum inaugurated a week before. Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen (left) accompanied the two heads of state, while Finance Minister Ahmed Shidie gabbed with Firehiwot Tamiru, CEO of Ethio telecom.

Ahmed unexpectedly announced that his government would grant an operation permit for Safaricom Ethiopia to start mobile money services deploying its pioneering platform, M-PESA.

A consortium of South African, UK, and Japanese companies under the stewardship of Kenya's Safaricom Plc, Safaricom Ethiopia has made history by entering the Ethiopian market as the first private telecom operator. Won a highly touted telecom licence two years ago after outbidding its contenders for over 800 million dollars, Safaricom unveiled its first data centre in Addis Abeba last month. Anwar Sousa, Safaricom Ethiopia's CEO, pledged to work to build Ethiopia's digital economy and expand services nationally.

"A vision of transforming lives for a digital future is not a path to be walked alone," said Anwar during the launching event held at Friendship Square. "It requires walking at the same pace as Ethiopia's vision for a prosperous future."

Safaricom Ethiopia began testing its network and services in Dire Dawa, before going into operation in eight towns in the weeks ahead of its national launch.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 08,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1171]

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