Ethiopia’s Ethio Telecom launches LTE services
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.
Although there is considerable investment in telecoms services, the sector is heavily regulated and the government has complete control over networks, with virtually unlimited access to the call records of all phone users and to logs of internet traffic. Most of the technologies deployed have been provided by ZTE and Huawei.
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.
Estimated market penetration rates in Ethiopia’s telecoms sector – 2015 (e)
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
- BelCash Technology Solution partners with two banks to launch HelloCash mobile money service;
- Ethio Telecom launches LTE in Addis Ababa;
- 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, Ericsson also brought in as network vendor in December 2014;
- 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.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Ethio Telecom (Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation, ETC); EthioNet (ETC); Ethio Mobile (ETC); France Telecom, Tecno Telecom, Smadl, Tana Communication, Thuraya