Safaricom operations in Ethiopia have since started following years of lobbying and waiting for approvals from various state agencies in the country.
It makes sense why the company chose to enter the Ethiopian market, although its presence there is not as a single because the operator is part of a consortium that includes the likes of Vodacom Group, Sumitomo Corporation, and CDC Group. It has successfully offered services in Kenya, and part of its innovations, including M-PESA, have won the carrier international recognition.
Its Ethiopia bid, which was accepted by regulators, is said to have cost USD 850 million.
Safaricom, which has since appointed executives to lead the Ethiopia arm and some of which are Kenyan, has additional plans under its sleeve.
Besides the promise that it should deploy 4G services across Ethiopia by 2023, it has been reported that the carrier is investing in a massive data centre.
According to Addis Fortune, Safaricom Ethiopia is building a $100 million data centre that will be stationed in the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa.
The system is being assembled in China and will be transported to Ethiopia once it’s completed.
It has also been reported that the data centre is part of a $300 million budget that the operator had planned to spend in 2022.
After the Addis data centre, Safaricom Ethiopia will develop similar infrastructure in Adama and Dire Dawa as it ramps up operation in the country.
Ethiopia is a lucrative market with more than 110 million people. Safaricom hopes that it will fast-track its operations to meet the terms of its license. At the same time, it is possible, though the matter is yet to be fully addressed, that Safaricom will export M-PESA service there. That development, should it go on – and there is a possibility that it might – will see the mobile money service take on another populous country in the hope that its success in Kenya will also be replicated there.