Safaricom Ethiopia takes off
Kenya’s premier telco company Safaricom will today add another feather to its impresssive history by officially launching its Ethiopian subsidiary, Safaricom Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.
The launch is a culmination of intense preparations, characterised by heavy financial outlay and lately marked by shareholder anxiety partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic and political tensions in the Horn of Africa country, factors that contributed to postponement of the eagerly awaited launch.
Banking on a 115 million population, analysts consider entry in Ethiopia a posthumous celebration of the late Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bob Collymore, on whose watch the idea of regional expansion was first mooted as the next logical step for the telco’s growth after cementing its dominance in the Kenyan market.
The telco and its partners invested in excess of $1.3 billion (Sh150 billion) to prepare for today’s launch by setting up the core network infrastructure and data centres to manage its services and customer expectations. The subsidiary has been rolling out its services in Central and Northern Ethiopian cities of Bahir Dar, Adama, Dire Dawa, Harar and Haramaya in addition to the Capital Addis Ababa, in a phased city-by-city pilot programmes, trials that have enabled customers sample the subsidiary’s services offered on its 2G, 3G and 4G network upon purchase of SIM cards.
“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,” said Safaricom Ethiopia Chief Executive Anwar Soussa.
With the official launch done, Safaricom Ethiopia will be ramping up the roll out of the services to 25 regions by April next year, according to CEO Anwar Soussa.
As part of the expansion strategy, safaricom tapped current CEO Peter Ndegwa from Diageo, a global leader in the alcoholic beverages business upon whose experience in the general management in sales and finance operations of fast-moving consumer goods the subsidiary will lean on for guidance.