Safaricom Ethiopia to roll out over 8,000 masts, plans investing $10 bln in ten years

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By Yared Nigussie

President William Ruto (PhD) announced Thursday that Safaricom Ethiopia has a plan to roll out 8,000 masts across Ethiopia thereby creating millions of direct jobs through the roll out of services.

The launch of Safaricom Ethiopia is a record breaking event, he says. “It has attracted investments that will over the next 10 years, rise to $10 billion to roll out over 8,000 masts throughout Ethiopia, thereby creating millions of direct jobs through the rollout of services, and many more indirectly,” President Ruto said in his remark during Safaricom Ethiopia’s national launch held at Friendship Square.

The national launch took place on Thursday, September 26, 2022.

The President claimed the event as a beautiful celebration of the character, strength and promise of the deep relationship between Ethiopian and Kenya, which dates back to the birth of our republic six decades ago.

“It testifies to the deep brotherly ties, exemplary neighborliness and effective partnership that have characterized the essence of the excellent special relationship between our two countries,” he said.

It’s a relationship that was forged by historic relationship and selfless collaboration in the freedom struggle which evolved into the nucleus which anchored pan African solidarity, he says.

“Today, we’re called upon to summon our best efforts to achieve rapid, inclusive and sustainable progress,” he said, adding that, “It’s therefore wonderful to witness the splendid transformation underway in Ethiopia, which is integral to the momentum of progress taking place in our region”.

Prior to the national launch, Safaricom Ethiopia announced that it switched on its network in Addis Abeba.

An important characteristic of this transformation everywhere it occurs is convergence, says President Ruto. Critical dimensions of rapid, sustainable progress, aligned in ways that are impossible to ignore and appropriate to acknowledge and embrace, according to President Ruto.

“Today’s event is the culmination of a fruitful convergence between the local and the global,” as he puts it. This bottom up alignment and least a regional dimension. Thus, a local company Safaricom Ethiopia came into existence when Kenya’s Safaricom attracted an international investment joint venture comprising organizations from South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Japan, he says.

President Ruto also praised Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s (PhD) administration for its commitment to attract international investment to Ethiopia.

“When the government of Ethiopia resolved to liberalize the telecommunications sector in 2018, it was inspired and determined to use the opportunity to harness the potential in bringing together the best of local, regional or international strategic resources,” he said. “The ways in which this project has been executed, clearly affirms this intent and the visionary leadership and foresight demonstrated by my brother Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.”

The President shared Kenya’s experience of telecom liberalization 22 years ago, which he believes to the lead in the ICT penetration and competition. The silicon Savannah phenomenon which revolutionized many sectors, introducing mobile money to the world through MPESA is one dividend of this liberalization, he witnesses.

The telecommunication sector is one of the of Kenya’s biggest employers, providing opportunities for millions of young people, both directly and indirectly. It enhances the performance of every sector, delivering improved services more efficiently and enhancing citizen satisfaction.

He went on saying that, “We are encouraged by this strong affirmation, the excellent tradition of neighborliness synergy shall continue and flourish. Another way of appreciating this event is by considering the convergence of capital and technology, which effectively unlocked the Ethiopian government’s vision of catalyzing economic performance by liberalizing its telecommunication sector through a highly strategic approach.”

Prime Minister Abiy on his part listed out the merits of expanding telecommunication access.

He said that expanding reliable connectivity in every corner of the country is not only essential for providing access to telecommunication, it is critical for racing binding constraints in critical sectors like agriculture, health care, logistics, education, tourism and manufacturing.

“When designing our homegrown economic reform agenda, we prioritize the ICT sector as one of the key drivers of economic progress,” Abiy told the dignitaries, who attended the national launch program.

“Since then, we have gone far in implementing important milestones, including the launch of digital Ethiopia 2025 a strategy for Ethiopia’s inclusive prosperity that recognizes the value of the digital economy,” he said.

He indicated that expansion of the telecom sector will have a mammoth contribution to the economy.

Expansions in the telecom sector, in particular, will enable growth of tech startups and insight problem solving innovations to mushroom a well planned and executed technology deployment that is accessible to millions of people has a catalytic effect in creating the necessary environment for our users to be the engine of our economy, and they use their entrepreneurial skill to compete globally, Prime Minister Abiy said.

President William Ruto on the other hand the opportunities created by Safaricom Ethiopia.

“The promise behind Safaricom Ethiopia’s entry as the second national telecoms operator has already being felt,” he said. The firm has so far recruited 460 Ethiopian staff, and 50 graduate trainees to create the seminal talent cohort of digital innovators. “It is also working with regional universities to recruit an additional 100 graduates this year. 1500 Ethiopian businesses are working with Safaricom Ethiopia to develop supply chain and network landlords with invent intentions to expand these growing partnership and supply chain throughout the country,” he further explained.

Officials of Safaricom Ethiopia disclosed during Thursday morning media briefing that some 200,000 people have already got Safaricom line that begins with 07 digit.

 “We are optimistic about how the technology and connectivity we are providing will contribute to a digital future and eventually transform people’s lives,” Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom said during a presser held at Hyatt Regency prior to the national launch program at Friendship Square.

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