African telecom company Safaricom will launch its commercial operations in Ethiopia in March 2022, media reports said. The telco will use the ’07’ mobile number prefix, which it uses in Kenya.
Safaricom is set to be the second telco to operate in Ethiopia after Ethio Telecom. Earlier this year, Ethiopia decided to privatise its telecom sector. Over the years, state-owned Ethio Telecom was the only telco operating in the country.
Anwar Soussa, managing director of Safaricom Ethiopia, told the media, “Our first data center has arrived in Addis and we are working on our network rollout. As we continue to recruit, we are on track to hit a milestone of 100 local employees in January and 1000 roles both direct and indirect by quarter two of 2022, and eventually 1.5 million jobs over the next 10 years.”
Recently, Safaricom appointed eight middle-level managers in Ethiopia. It wants to build a pool of staff ahead of the commercial operations next year.
Earlier this year, a Safaricom-led consortium recently received Ethiopia’s first private national telecoms licence, nearly three years after the Prime Minister’s announcement to open Ethiopia’s telecommunications sector.
The Safaricom consortium includes Vodafone, Vodacom, Safaricom, Sumitomo Corporation, and the CDC Group with a bid offering of $850 million. The offer beat MTN’s coalition to acquire Ethiopia’s first private national telecommunications licence.
In February 2021, the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) denied Safaricom’s claims to have been shortlisted for the list of bidders for an operator’s licence. Their statements said the regulator had explained that it did not receive proposals and there was no shortlist. It is unclear if this was a smokescreen or not.