Ethiopia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

Ethio Telecom reports steady climb in subscriber base

Ethiopia is one of the last countries in Africa to allow its national telco a monopoly on all telecom services including fixed, mobile, internet and data communications. For many years Ethio Telecom’s monopolistic control stifled innovation, restricted network expansion and limited the scope of services on offer. However, a management contract with Orange Group has dramatically improved the company’s performance, though there remain weaknesses in quality of service. Although the contract was considered a first step towards sector privatisation and the introduction of competition, the government has rejected calls to progress along these lines, citing the need for higher profits from the company to subsidise unrelated projects.

Although there is considerable investment in telecoms services – some $3.1 billion has been invested in telecom infrastructure and service expansion projects over the last decade – 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, which have often been favoured for offering vendor financing.

Despite major vendor contracts aimed at improving the reach and capabilities of mobile networks, the country’s mobile penetration remains among the lowest in the world. Nevertheless, growth is strong and considerable growth potential remains. Policies have been guided by the government’s Growth and Transformation Plan.

The country's broadband market is also set to develop further following substantial increases in international bandwidth, improvements in national fibre backbone infrastructure and the growing availability of mobile broadband services via 3G and LTE networks. After years of low uptake due to prohibitive pricing, retail prices are now comparable to other more developed markets in the region.

Key developments:

  • Viettel considering business case for entering Ethiopia’s telecoms sector;
  • Safaricom considers licensing M-Pesa mobile money platform in Ethiopia;
  • Ethio Telecom partners with Gulf2Africa cable construction;
  • Government launches mobile apps as part of the e-Government Directorate;
  • Major changes anticipated in the second Growth and Development Plan to 2020;
  • VAS licences issued;
  • Ethio Telecom expands LTE reach, considers charging for OTT services, reports strong profit growth for FY2017;
  • Cloned mobile phones to be disconnected from Ethio Telecom’s network;
  • International internet bandwidth increased 56% in 2016 to reach 35Gb/s;
  • Significant improvements in broadband affordability;
  • Huawei and ZTE share a $1.6 billion contract to develop mobile infrastructure;
  • MetEC begins delivery of smart meters to Ethiopian Electric Utility.
  • Companies mentioned in this report:

Ethio Telecom (formerly Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation, ETC), EthioNet, Ethio Mobile, Orange Group, Tecno Telecom, Smadl, Tana Communication, Thuraya.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Country overview
  • 4. Telecommunications market
    • 4.1 Market analysis
  • 5. Regulatory environment
    • 5.1 Regulatory authority
    • 5.2 Telecom service licences
    • 5.3 Telecom sector liberalisation
    • 5.4 Privatisation
  • 6. Fixed network operator
    • 6.1.1 Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
    • 6.1.2 Leased lines, data services
    • 6.1.3 VSAT
    • 6.1.4 Orange Group management contract
    • 7. Telecommunications infrastructure
      • 7.2 Overview of the national telecom network
      • 7.3 Rural area network
      • 7.4 National backbone network
      • 7.5 Next Generation Network (NGN)
      • 7.6 Network development plan 2007-2012
      • 7.7 Growth and development Plans I and II
      • 7.8 International infrastructure
    • 8. Smart infrastructure
    • 9. Fixed-line broadband market
      • 9.1 Introduction and statistical overview
      • 9.2 Broadband statistics
        • 9.2.1 Forecast – broadband subscribers – 2019; 2021; 2023
      • 9.3 Public internet access locations
      • 9.4 Fixed-line broadband technologies
        • 9.4.1 Fixed wireless
    • 10. Digital economy
      • 10.1 E-government
      • 10.2 E-learning
    • 11. Mobile market
      • 11.1 Market analysis
      • 11.2 Mobile statistics
        • 11.2.1 General statistics
        • 11.2.2 Mobile data
      • 11.3 Mobile broadband
      • 11.4 Forecast – mobile subscribers – 2018; 2020; 2022
      • 11.5 Mobile operator
        • 11.5.1 Ethio Mobile
      • 11.6 Mobile infrastructure
        • 11.6.1 Digital networks
        • 11.6.2 Other infrastructure developments
      • 11.7 Mobile content and applications
        • 11.7.1 m-banking
      • 11.8 Mobile handsets
        • 11.8.1 Local handset manufacturing
    • 12. Related reports
    • Table 1 – Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities- Ethiopia – 2017
    • Table 2 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1995 - 2009
    • Table 3 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2010 - 2019
    • Table 4 – Growth development Plan I and II objectives – 2015; 2020
    • Table 5 – International internet bandwidth – 2000 - 2016
    • Table 6 – Historic - Internet users and penetration rate – 1996 - 2009
    • Table 7 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2010 - 2018
    • Table 9 – Historic - Internet subscribers – 1997 - 2009
    • Table 10 – Broadband subscribers – 2003 - 2018
    • Table 11 – Forecast broadband subscribers – 2019; 2021; 2023
    • Table 12 – Ethio Telecom DSL subscribers – 2011 - 2018
    • Table 13 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1999 - 2009
    • Table 14 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2010 - 2019
    • Table 15 – SMS messages sent – 2010 - 2017
    • Table 16 – Active mobile broadband subscribers – 2009 - 2018
    • Table 17 – Forecast mobile subscribers – 2018; 2020; 2022
    • Chart 1 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2005 – 2019
    • Chart 2 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2005 – 2018
    • Chart 3 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2005 - 2019

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