An international consortium named the Global Partnership for Ethiopia has been awarded a licence to operate telecom services in Ethiopia. The impact investment consortium aspires to support Ethiopia’s digital transformation and positively enhance the lives of its citizens.
The partners in the consortium are led by Safaricom Plc, a partner member of the Vodafone Group, and will establish a new operating company in Ethiopia which aims to start providing telecommunications services from 2022. In addition to Safaricom, the partnership includes: Vodacom Group; Vodafone Group; Sumitomo Corporation – one of the largest international trading and business investment companies; and CDC Group – the UK’s development finance institution and impact investor.
Ethiopia is home to over 112 million people, making it the second-largest country in Africa by population. It is one of the last countries in the world to introduce competition in the telecom industry, a rigorous process started by the government in 2019 as part of its Economic Reform Agenda, with the support of the International Finance Corporation. The reforms aim to increase jobs, reduce poverty and grow the local economy in an inclusive and sustainable manner.
The Global Partnership for Ethiopia was created to bring about transformational economic and social impact in the country. The provision of accessible, affordable and high-quality mobile and internet connectivity by the Partnership will enable greater social inclusion as millions more Ethiopians access quality telecom services. Increased connectivity in Ethiopia will also boost the economy, impacting over 1 million jobs with digital training and skills, and bringing about productivity improvements for countless micro-entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises.
“We are excited for the opportunity to work with the people of Ethiopia to set up telecom networks to deliver a digital lifestyle. In past years, we have seen the power of digital transformation and its impact on our customers. We believe by working with all stakeholders in Ethiopia, we can deliver a similar transformation while achieving a sustainable return to our shareholders.” Safaricom CEO, Peter Ndegwa said.
Other partners in the consortium include Vodacom, which together with Safaricom fall under the bigger Vodafone group, Sumitomo Corporation and CDC group.
“The consortium partners have a great track record for delivering transformative technology services, particularly when it comes to health, education and agriculture, built on quality telecom networks. He said the consortium was looking forward to making an impact on the lives of Ethiopians through promoting widespread digital inclusion as part of Vodacom’s pledge to connect the next 100 million Africans by 2025.” Shameel Joosub, Vodacom Group CEO said.
This is a significant development for Ethiopia, which is one of the last very large markets in the world to introduce telecom competition. Vodafone CEO Nick Read said they were happy to play a transformational role in ensuring Ethiopia’s huge economic and developmental potential is realized through the deployment of next-generation connectivity and digital services, creating an inclusive and sustainable digital society.
Sumitomo Corporation operates a variety of businesses across the world with focus on the media and digital sector. The company will tap into its experience from Asia and Japan and know-how for cutting edge digital transformation to provide services for Ethiopia.
Tenbite Ermias, CDC’s Head of Africa said that Modern, stable and flourishing economies are built on reliable affordable digital infrastructure, and access to global trade. He attributed the emergence of more economic opportunities to a roll out a robust network. Tens of millions of Ethiopians, from urban dwellers to farmers, and to businesses large and small are set to benefit from these opportunities. Ermias adds that the outcome has the power to unlock development over time and is great news for Ethiopians across the country.