ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’scapital is hosting the first-ever Internet Development conference that aims to prepare the country for the new era of liberalized telecom sector and start developing the Internet ecosystem for the benefit of citizens and businesses alike.
Ethiopia is one of the fastest-growing economies in the region, with a young population of over 105 million.
But internet penetration in the country is currently 18.6% which is less than half the African average.
The current administration is expanding Internet access is a key part of Ethiopia’s Government Strategy to tackle a number of its acute problems such as youth unemployment.
The gaps in Ethiopia exist in large pockets of no network zones in rural areas and 4G is only available in the capital.
Moreover, Ethiopians are not yet benefiting from the many Internet-related services that other countries have to develop their economies as well as to improve the lives of their people.
The conference, Addis Ababa hosting, aims to create awareness amongst policymakers, regulators, businesses, technologists and potential entrepreneurs about the Internet model and technology, says the organisers.
“With less than 20% of the population connected, Ethiopia has a tremendous opportunity to expand Internet access and to use it to improve the lives of its people,” Dawit Bekele, Regional Vice President for Africa, Internet Society.
The Society is one of the oldest nonprofit organizations dedicated to the Internet.
“We have a long history of working with governments and other partners to help bring connectivity and its benefits to countries around the world,” he said.
“We appreciate the support of the Ministry of Innovation and Technology in this event and look forward to working with them to help expand Internet access in Ethiopia for the benefit of its population, whether they are in big cities or in remote areas” he added.
Specifically, the conference is expected to address the main issues and challenges the country is facing in relation to the quality and penetration of Internet service and technology.
It is also exploring different technical options to improve the local internet infrastructure and to make better use of the regional and global internet infrastructure, among others.