Safaricom is negotiating an infrastructure sharing deal with Ethiopian rival Ethio Telecom as it prepares to launch operations in the country over the next couple of months.
Safaricom-Ethiopia Chief Executive Mr Anwar Soussa, said they are currently working with Ethio Telecom and the regulator- Ethiopia’s Communication Authority (ECA) to iron out details of the partnership.
The Safaricom-led consortium is expected to invest $8 billion on critical infrastructure and services in Ethiopia over the next decade.
Meanwhile, the company may be forced to use its rival’s cell sites, masts and other active elements such as network roaming as the it sets up shop.
“Ethio-Telecom and ourselves both have a commitment to Digital Transformation Agenda. We are currently working together to establish a ‘win-win partnership’ to achieve this,” Mr Soussa said.
“We are currently negotiating on national roaming and infrastructure sharing in line with the telecom proclamation and regulation framework overseen by the ECA,” he said.
Network sharing is a strategic solution for new entrants into a market already dominated by an incumbent operator or in mature developed markets.
Parties have to agree on charges, the load-bearing capacity of towers, space within sites, tilt and height of the antenna and adverse effects on quality of service (QoS) when antennas are combined and differing standards employed by the equipment vendor.
Site sharing, mast sharing and network roaming are the most common forms of infrastructure sharing due to their relative technical and commercial simplicity.
Safaricom is also setting up its own infrastructure and has unveiled its first China-assembled data centre in Addis Ababa.
Built for $100 million, the facility was deployed less than a year after the consortium led by Safaricom, South Africa’s Vodacom and Japan’s Sumitomo was awarded a mobile operating licence.