Ethio Telecoms Pilots 5G Ahead of Safaricom Ethiopia

The launch is in partnership with ZTE and Huawei.


Safaricom Ethiopia has since started operations, following years of lobbying in the country that cost it USD 850 million. When the deal was sealed, Safaricom Ethiopia, which has also appointed top executives to manage its operations, was tasked to deploy 4G service by next year (2023). Safaricom has also built a USD 100 million data centre in Addis Ababa as it seeks to make its presence known.

While Safaricom Ethiopia is popular thanks to its success in the Kenyan market catapulted by services such as M-PESA, Ethiopia also has other carriers, including state-owned Ethio Telecoms.

The carrier has launched 5G services, although it will be a pilot. This is akin to what Safaricom did in Kenya back in early 2021 when it launched the 4G successor, but for testing in select parts of the country. Commercial launch is said to happen sometime before the year ends, or in 2023.

The Ethio 5G service has been launched across six mobile stations in the nation’s capital.

Trials will expand to other parts of Addis and regional cities in the coming months. The telco hopes that there will be more than 150 5G sites in the next 12 months.

The service is also supported by technologies from Huawei and ZTE. Huawei is also one of Safaricom’s (Kenya) 5G partners.

The country’s ICT regulator, the Ethiopia Communication Authority has since approved spectrum for 5G, albeit temporarily.

Ethio Telecom has nearly 61 million customers. It also serves 25 million data customers.

“We are pleased and honored to launch the world’s advanced fifth-generation network. We are committed to seeing a digital Ethiopia, which will uplift our people’s overall living conditions,” Frehiwot Tamiru, CEO of Ethio-Telecom, said during the launching event.

“Huawei has been devoting (itself) to this market for more than 20 years, and we have observed the fast development and great evolution of the telecom industry in this country,” said Hou Wei, Vice President of Huawei Northern Africa.