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Ethiopia: Ethiopia Communication Profile


Mobile phone


Ethiopia is one of the last nations in Africa allowing its national telco, Ethio-Telecom (ETC) a monopoly on all telecom services inclunding fixed, mobile, Internet and data communications. This monopolistic control has stifled innovation and retarded expansion. A management arrangement with France Telecom has led to dramatically improved performance and is seen as a initial step towards privatisation and the introduction of competition, but the two companies are blaming each other for weaknesses in quality of service.

With a people of almost 90 million, Ethiopia is Africa's second most populous country. Its mobile market almost tripled in 2011, and from presently on market penetration is still less than half the African average, so enormous increase potential remains.

The country's broadband market is as well set for a boom following massive improvements in international bandwidth, national fibre backbone infrastructure and 3G mobile broadband services. Next years of low uptake due to prohibitive pricing, retail prices are presently comparable to other markets in the region that are by presently additional developed.

Ethiopia is as well the new low-cost location for mobile phone manufacturing. Three companies have started manufacturing in the country with a combined capacity of almost five million units per year and will any minute at this time start exporting to other African markets. The initial locally manufactured smartphone is expected to hit the market in the second half of 2012. An extra 20 companies have been licensed for local mobile phone manufacturing. The government is encouraging foreign investment in a broad range of industries by allowing up to 100% foreign equity ownership.

Market highlights:

  • Ethio-Telecom transforms under management contract with France Telecom;
  • Strong revenue growth despite drastic price cuts;
  • The fastest growing mobile market in Africa;
  • Local handset manufacturing, including smartphones;
  • International internet bandwidth has increased more than six-fold in two years;
  • Significant improvements in broadband affordability;
  • Broadband pricing comparison: ADSL, EV-DO, GPRS, HSDPA;
  • Forecasts for mobile and internet market to 2014 and 2017.

Estimated market penetration rates in Ethiopia’s telecoms sector – end 2012

Market Penetration rate
Mobile 26%
Fixed 0.9%
Internet 1.7%

(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

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