Ethio Telecom, the state-owned incumbent in Ethiopia, has started a project to encourage start-up technology companies.
The Ethiotel Innovation Programme, which is being run in association with the local branch of Chinese vendor Huawei, will focus on digital finance and technological businesses and innovators.
Ethio Telecom CEO Frehiwot Tamiru (pictured) said: “This is a golden opportunity for start-ups and to accelerate the country’s aspiration of realising digital Ethiopia.”
She said that the programme “will have paramount national significance in empowering and supporting solution-oriented technologies”.
The company has announced the project at a time when it is facing increasing competition from Safaricom, the only rival so far to receive a licence. The regulator has announced a proposal to offer a further licence, and the government is looking at selling a substantial stake in Ethio Telecom.
The project is designed to be implemented in three chapters, mainly to address the challenges that any start-up business would face, such as market penetration, customer attraction and retention, acquiring experts and finance.
The aim is to enable business ideas at conception to be realized and existing start-ups to grow, said the company.
The selected winners and start-ups will obtain professional expertise, financial support, and material support. They will also be sponsored to gain international experience, said Ethio Telecom.
Michael Liu, deputy CEO of Huawei’s operations in the country, said the project will support the digital transformation of Ethiopia while boosting the digital eco-environment.
He said the programme will give all companies a chance to embrace the digital era. And Ethiopian users will enjoy digital infrastructure to accelerate the digital economy.
Huawei is a supplier to both Ethio Telecom and Safaricom Ethiopia, in which the biggest shareholder is Safaricom Kenya, part of the Vodafone/Vodacom family of companies.