Safaricom, among its partners (Vodacom Group, Sumitomo Corporation, and CDC Group all named Global Partnership for Ethiopia (GPE)), acquired operating license for the lucrative Ethiopian market back in July 2021.
In July this year, it emerged that the operator would start rolling out operations this August. That implied that services would be four months behind schedule. Still, it was also revealed that telecom services would be launched intermittently, with wider coverage set out for 2023.
One of the first regions that was to be served is Dire Dawa.
Now, a statement from the telco has confirmed these developments. It means that Safaricom Ethiopia has already started large-scale customer pilot of its network in the said city. This is part of the aforementioned intermittent network launch, which will prepare the operator for a national launch.
Dire Dawa city residents will now have access to Safaricom Ethiopia’s 2G, 3G and 4G coverage. The customers can also purchase Safaricom SIM cards, and choose their preferred number starting with the 07 prefix.
The SIM cards will be available in branded shops, and will include offers for data, voice and SMS. To note, these offers will allow them to test the Safaricom network in the area for a period of one month.
Still, customers will be able to purchase data, voice and SMS units using airtime that will be sold from branded shops.
So far, Safaricom Ethiopia says that three shops in Dire Dawa’s Kezira, Meskelegna and Cornell areas will open to customers for SIM purchase and registration, customer care support as well as purchase of devices.
The network allows customers to reach friends and family on the state-owned Ethio Telecom network. International calls are also possible.
Customer service will be available in their preferred language, including Amharic, English, Afaan Oromo and Ag-Somali.
Safaricom Ethiopia services will be available in 25 cities by April 2023.
“We are excited to begin our customer pilot for Safaricom Ethiopia’s network and services in Dire Dawa. This is an important milestone we begin opening the network to customers in order to test the end-to-end readiness of technical and commercial operations ahead of full network launch. We thank the Government of Ethiopia, the Dire Dawa City Administration, the Ethiopian Communications Authority, community leaders, network, IT and distribution partners and all stakeholders for all their support towards realizing this and future milestones. We will continue to share updates, as we extend the network and customer pilot across other regions, towards our National Launch in October 2022,” said Anwar Soussa, Chief Executive Officer, Safaricom Ethiopia.