Home5G & BeyondET launches 5G in Addis Ababa

    ET launches 5G in Addis Ababa


    Ethiopia’s national telco launches flagship service

    Ethiopia’s government-owned operator Ethio Telecom (ET) has launched a 5G mobile phone service in the capital Addis Ababa. With temporary spectrum approval its strategic partner Huawei has built six mobile base stations with a view to expanding to 150 regional sites in the next year, according to its statement.


    According to Reuters, new entrants to the market have stimulated greater competitive activity and galvanised the national carrier into action. ET is facing competition from a subsidiary of Kenya’s Safaricom which unveiled its first data centre in Addis Ababa in April ahead of its anticipated launch in the Horn of Africa. The arriviste telco spent $100 million on a facility built in China by Huawei and Nokia and shipped over in modules to be assembled on site in order to launch Safaricom Ethiopia. It plans to build two more data centres in the next five years.

    ET phone

    Speaking at the launch event Ethio Telecom CEO Frehiwot Tamru said: “The 5G service is [to be] launched in selected places in Addis Ababa.” In the coming 12 months, ET will have 150 5G sites in Addis Ababa and outside Addis Ababa. Tamru did not give costs for the rollout of the network. Ethio Telecom currently has 64 million national subscribers across the nation. It recorded a 6.7% rise in revenues to 28 billion Ethiopian birr (€515.40 million) in its half year to Dec. 31. 


    In June 2021 the Ethiopian government launched a tendering process to sell off a 40% stake in Ethio Telecom to private investors. In March 2022, the government said it had postponed the planned partial privatisation because of the prevailing economic environment domestically and globally. In December national regulator the Ethiopian Communication Authority said it had also suspended a tender process for a second telecommunications licence, which it said it would relaunch in the “near future”.

    ET phone Horn

    With a population of 110 million Ethiopia has much potential as a developing economy but it sold only one of two full-service recon licences on offer in May 2021.The winner of the first licence, a consortium led by Kenya-based Safaricom and Japan’s Sumitomo, is in the process of setting up its network ahead of a planned commercial launch due anytime now. The licences are considered a big prize in the country’s push to liberalise the economy, which had been one of the world’s last major closed telecoms markets.

    Economy growing

    However, there is some co-operation between the rivals. In April it emerged that Safaricom Ethiopia has agreed in principle to share cell sites and tower assets with Ethio Telecom. “The deal is very important and critical for our commercial viability and launch. Hopefully [we will launch] soon but we don’t have a date yet,” said Michael Joseph, Group Chairman of Kenya-based Safaricom. Safaricom’s infrastructure share deal in Ethiopia follows a five-year infrastructure lease agreement with Ethiopian Electric Power. Addis Ababa is enjoying a surge of activity with an influx of data centres with data centre and comms specialists RaxioWingu.Africa and RedFox are also developing facilities.