Having missed the April 2022 deadline to launch its network and services, Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia now says it will begin with the phased commercial launch of its network and services in August this year.
The company said the plan is to achieve 25% coverage by April 2023, beginning with Dire Dawa in the East, close to neighbour Somalia.
Safaricom said Dire Dawa is almost ready and once completed, it will move on to other cities.
The company said it has invested US$1-billion in Ethiopia, which includes a licence fee and imported equipment worth over US$300-million, tower and wholesale agreements for international connectivity, among others.
The Safaricom consortium, which includes British Development Finance Corporation Agency (CDC Group) and Japanese Sumitomo Corporation, secured a US$850-million licence to operate last year.
It has remained tight-lipped on reasons behind its failure to launch in April.
Safaricom Telecommunication Ethiopia external affairs and regulatory officer Matthew Harrison-Harvey said only that the company is currently in a testing period to ensure when the network is switched on, it will deliver “a quality experience for Ethiopians.”
He added that the implementation of the infrastructure agreement with Ethiopia’s incumbent operator Ethio Telecom is progressing well.
In addition to infrastructure, Harvey said the company has also appointed a management team and experts for commercial launch, providing professional skills development to employees.
To date, the company has recruited 500 workers, 320 of whom are Ethiopians.
Harrison-Harvey said, “Safaricom Ethiopia is looking forward to switching on our network and services from August 2022 and other cities in phases across the country in coming months. We are working to fulfil our commitment to building the long-term foundation for our contribution to Ethiopia’s digital transformation and inclusion objectives to transform lives for a digital future. We have developed our core network, IT, products and services, set up a call centre and built two datacentres. By next April, Safaricom hopes to have made its services available to 25% of the population.”