NAIROBI, Kenya, June 7 – Safaricom is on Tuesday set to receive its operating license in Ethiopia, a major milestone in Kenya’s investments in the country.
A high-powered delegation flew to Addis Ababa Ethiopia on Sunday for the event aimed at boosting the Horn of Africa country’s telecommunications services as well as solidify trade and investment between the two countries.
“Foreign Affairs Rachel Omamo is already in Addis with a delegation,” a source said, hinting that President Uhuru Kenyatta may be traveling too.
Omamo arrived in Addis on Sunday and was received by the State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Ambassador Birtukan Ayano.
Top Safaricom executives led by Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa are also Addis for the event.
Ethiopia’s telecommunications regulators awarded the license to a consortium led by Safaricom, UK’s and South Africa Vodafone group, UK’s CDC group and Japan’s Sumitomo.
It is expected that the move will now enable every Ethiopian citizen to access quality services at an affordable price.
The shake-up of the potentially lucrative sector – currently dominated by state-owned Ethio Telecom — is a cornerstone of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s economic reform agenda.
Abiy, who is running for a new term in hotly anticipated national elections next month had hailed the news on Twitter, saying the consortium’s bid “offered the highest licensing fee and a very solid investment case.”
The new telecoms licenses are expected to bring an infusion of cash, jobs and infrastructure investment.
The initiative will provide 4G and 5G internet services, and by 2023 a low-orbit satellite will be put in place to provide nationwide 4G coverage, Brook added.
Ethiopia’s telecoms reforms also include a plan to sell a stake in Ethio Telecom, a move officials hope will make the firm more efficient.