Safaricom launches network in Ethiopia as first private operator

Kenya’s Safaricom has launched its mobile network in Ethiopia, becoming the first private operator in one of Africa’s largest telecoms markets.
Safaricom 5G in KenyaState-owned Ethio Telecom has a monopoly in Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country with an estimated 118 million people.

Safaricom Ethiopia switched on its mobile network and services in the capital Addis Ababa on Thursday following network pilots in 10 cities.

Ethiopia’s finance minister, Ahmed Shide, said his government had granted the company a license to operate a mobile money service.

Safaricom Ethiopia CEO Anwar Soussa said the mobile money service would take two to three months to roll out.

Safaricom leads a consortium entering the market including South Africa’s Vodacom and Britain’s Vodafone.

Safaricom Ethiopia said it plans a national network rollout to reach 14 additional cities by April 2023.

“We are optimistic about how the technology and connectivity we are providing will contribute to a digital future and eventually transform people’s lives,” said Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa.

Safaricom launched the world’s first-ever mobile phone-based money transfer service 15 years ago, and the business, known as M-Pesa, has evolved to account for roughly half of the company’s annual revenue.