Safaricom scaling up to become Ethiopia’s second mobile operator

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Safaricom Ethiopia is preparing for its launch by building a $100 million (€88.2 million) data centre in Addis Ababa, according to Ethiopian news source Addos Fortune. The entire structure was assembled in China before before transported to the capital via Djibouti. The data centre is part of the $300 million (€265million) investment budgeted for Safaricom Ethiopia’s first year of operation.

The company plans to install similar data centres in Adama and Dire Dawa as it scales up operations, according to Pedro Rabacal, chief technology and information officer at Safaricom Ethiopia. Rabacal said the facility was built over a number of weeks before being delivered to the capital via boat.

Remote purchase, assemble at home
The deployment comes as Safaricom looks to launch commercial services in the country and become Ethiopia’s second telecoms operator, reports DataCenter Dynamics. Safaricom Ethiopia MD Anwar Soussa said the company’s first data centre has arrived in Addis and the company is working on its network rollout.

“We are committed to bringing the best telecom technology to Ethiopia. We have invested 100 million dollars in our first data centre in Addis,” the company said in a LinkedIn post. “We need a number of data centres across Ethiopia to be able to cover the whole territory,” said Rabacal. “First we will expand to Adama, then Dira Dawa, and then further out.”

Exciting competition developing
Until last year government-owned Ethio Telecom had a monopoly in the country. However, in May 2021 a consortium led by Kenya’s Safaricom, Vodafone and Japan’s Sumitomo were awarded a license to operate in the country.

The consortium, which included development finance agency CDC Group, paid $850 million (€750m) for the license and plans to invest more than $8 billion (€7 billion) in the country’s digital infrastructure. The telco will officially launch services in March.

Ethiopia’s inward investment
MTN had also bid to win the operating license, but lost to the consortium bid. The Government is also looking to sell off a stake in Ethio Telecom, for which Orange is interested in bidding. The government had intended to issue a license for a third operator to enter the country, but has since postponed the plans.

Ethiopia’s capital is enduring an influx of data centres, reports Data Centre Dynamics. In May 2021, Ethio Telecom opened a new Huaewei-made modular data centre in Addis Ababa. Data centre and communications specialists Raxio, Wingu.Africa and RedFox are also developing facilities.


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