Frehiwot Tamiru, chief executive officer (CEO) of Ethio telecom, gave Henok Kebede, president of the Amhara Bank S.C. (under formation), a tour of the physical facilities housing the former's data centre. The telecom monopoly’s glossy infrastructure tour took place the same day as the signing ceremony to lease the centre's services on April 12, 2022. The Bank will use the data centre for its digital services once it becomes operational, including its core banking systems. The lease agreement comes around a year after Ethio telecom inaugurated the centres, built by Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei, to provide services for business support systems, including mobile money.

The state-owned telecom operator boasts two data centres, with three more on the way, as it prepares to compete with Safaricom Ethiopia Plc. The latter recently set up its data centre for a 100 million dollars in investment, although it has yet to begin operations. It was a productive week for Ethio telecom; it also concluded negotiations with its competitor, Safaricom Ethiopia, for infrastructure sharing, mainly leasing towers, and interconnection between their systems. Nonetheless, they are yet to sign a contract.

Such deals between Ethio telecom and Amhara Bank, which has a paid-up capital of nearly six billion Birr, is what the government wants to see happening more. The National Digital Payments Strategy aspires to drive efficient payment service provisions and broaden financialisation, requiring a holy marriage between finance and information-communications technology. Data centres - to store, process and utilise the large amounts of data generated by users - are vital infrastructure in the ambition to digitise the economy. Beyond Ethio telecom and Safaricom, international data centre developers such as Redfox Web Solutions, Raxio Data Centre and Wingu.Africa are carrying out construction. The latter recently signed lease agreements with several companies, including banks.

PUBLISHED ON Apr 16,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1146]

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