Ethiopia - Telecoms, Mobile Broadband - Market Insights, Statistics and Forecasts

Executive summary

Privatisation of incumbent ETC stalled again

This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Ethiopia’s telecommunications market. Subjects covered include:

  • Key statistics;
  • Market and industry overviews;
  • Detailed profile of the monopoly telecom provider in the country;
  • Plans for privatisation and market liberalisation;
  • Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
  • Regulatory environment;
  • Infrastructure development;
  • Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile).
  • Internet and broadband development and pricing trends;
  • Mobile data services;
  • 3G mobile broadband services and pricing;
  • Average Revenue per User (ARPU);
  • Local mobile phone manufacturing, including smartphones.

Ethiopia is one of the last countries in Africa allowing its national telco, Ethio-Telecom (ETC) a monopoly on all telecom services including fixed, mobile, internet and data communications. This monopolistic control has stifled innovation and retarded expansion. A recently expired management contract with France Telecom dramatically improved performance for ETC 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.

With a population of almost 90 million, Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country. Although a number of major contracts have been signed with Chinese vendors since into 2013, the country’s mobile penetration remains one of the lowest in the world. Nevertheless, growth is strong and enormous growth potential remains. Albeit from a low base, mobile penetration is rising and the sector continues to benefit from the poor fixed-line infrastructure which has promoted mobile alternatives as the only viable, or robust, telecoms option in many areas.

The country's broadband market is also set for a boom following massive improvements in international bandwidth, national fibre backbone infrastructure and 3G mobile broadband services. After years of low uptake due to prohibitive pricing, retail prices are now comparable to other markets in the region that are already more developed.

Market highlights:

  • Value-added services (VAS) licences issued;
  • Ethio Telecom transforms under management contract with France Telecom/Orange;
  • Strong revenue growth despite drastic price cuts;
  • The fastest growing mobile market in Africa;
  • Local handset manufacturing, including smartphones;
  • International internet bandwidth has increased more than six-fold in two years;
  • Significant improvements in broadband affordability;
  • Broadband pricing comparison: ADSL, EV-DO, GPRS, HSDPA;
  • Vodacom and MTS position themselves in anticipation of market liberalisation;
  • Huawei and ZTE share a $1.6 billion contract to develop an LTE network and expand 3G nationally;
  • Samsung planning computer equipment assembly plant;
  • Huawei contracted to provide LTE infrastructure for the Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit project;
  • Ethio Telecom extends telecom network access to over 16,000 of 18,000 settlements;
  • Ethio Telecom project upgrade providing LTE to 400,000 in Addis Ababa;
  • Forecasts for mobile and internet market to 2014 and 2017;
  • MetEC begins delivery of smart meters to Ethiopian Electric Utility.

Estimated market penetration rates in Ethiopia’s telecoms sector – end-2013

Market
Penetration rate
Mobile
25%
Fixed
0.9%
Internet
1.2%

(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

Companies covered in this report:

Ethio-Telecom (Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation, ETC); EthioNet (ETC); Ethio Mobile (ETC); France Telecom, Tecno Telecom, Smadl, Tana Communication, Thuraya

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Overview of Ethiopia’s telecom market
  • 4. Regulatory environment
    • 4.1 Regulatory authority
      • 4.1.1 Ethiopian Telecommunications Agency (ETA)
    • 4.2 Telecom service licences
    • 4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation
  • 5. Fixed network operator
    • 5.1 Ethio-Telecom (ETC)
      • 5.1.1 Fixed-line statistics
      • 5.1.2 Fixed-line infrastructure
      • 5.1.3 Rural area network
      • 5.1.4 Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
      • 5.1.5 Leased lines, data services
      • 5.1.6 VSAT
      • 5.1.7 National backbone network
      • 5.1.8 Next Generation Network (NGN)
      • 5.1.9 International infrastructure
      • 5.1.10 Network development plan 2007-2012
      • 5.1.11 Privatisation
      • 5.1.12 France Telecom management contract
      • 5.1.13 Financial results 2010/11
      • 5.1.14 Smart Grids and Smart Meters
  • 6. Internet market
    • 6.1 Overview
    • 6.2 Internet statistics
    • 6.3 National connectivity
    • 6.4 Public internet access locations
    • 6.5 VoIP grey market
    • 6.6 E-government
    • 6.7 E-learning
    • 6.8 ISP market
      • 6.8.1 EthioNet
      • 6.8.2 Wholesale
  • 7. Broadband market
    • 7.1 ADSL
    • 7.2 EV-DO
    • 7.3 WiMAX
    • 7.4 Broadband via satellite
  • 8. Mobile communications
    • 8.1 Overview of Ethiopia’s mobile market
      • 8.1.1 Mobile statistics
    • 8.2 Mobile operator
      • 8.2.1 Ethi -Mobile
    • 8.3 Mobile data services
    • 8.4 Third generation (3G)
    • 8.5 Long-term Evolution (LTE)
    • 8.6 Mobile banking
    • 8.7 Satellite mobile
    • 8.8 Local handset manufacturing
    • 8.9 Smartphones
  • 9. Forecasts
    • 9.1 Forecast – mobile subscribers – 2014; 2017
    • 9.2 Forecast – Internet users – 2014; 2017
    • 9.3 Notes on scenario forecasts
  • 10. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics Ethiopia – 2013 (e)
  • Table 2 – Fixed-line network statistics – 2013 (e)
  • Table 3 – Internet provider statistics – 2013
  • Table 4 – Internet and social media user statistics – 2013
  • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2013 (e)
  • Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
  • Table 7 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1995 - 2004
  • Table 8 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2005 - 2014
  • Table 9 – Ethiopia’s international internet bandwidth – 2000 - 2013
  • Table 10 – Historic - Internet users and penetration rate – 1996 - 2004
  • Table 11 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2005 - 2014
  • Table 12 – Historic - Internet subscribers – 1997 - 2004
  • Table 13 – Internet subscribers – 2005 - 2014
  • Table 14 – Ethio Telecom capped ADSL pricing – August 2014
  • Table 15 – Fixed-line broadband subscribers – 2008 - 2013
  • Table 16 – Ethio-Telecom EV-DO wireless broadband pricing – August 2014
  • Table 17 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1999 - 2004
  • Table 18 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2005 - 2014
  • Table 19 – Ethio Telecom 3G pricing – September 2013
  • Table 20 – Forecast mobile subscribers – 2014; 2017
  • Table 21 – Forecast internet users – 2014; 2017
  • Chart 1 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2005 – 2014
  • Chart 2 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2005 – 2014
  • Chart 3 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2005 - 2014

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