Tech Firms Raises Concerns over Capacity of Existing Telecom Infrastructure

ADDIS ABEBA – Technology Companies have questioned the capacity of the existing telecommunication infrastructure to accommodate new telecom companies which are anticipated to join the Ethiopian market later this year via the ongoing liberalization strategy.

Ethio telecom has held a consultative meeting with several IT and start-up companies on Thursday aimed at gathering inputs regarding the ongoing telecom market reform the nation is undertaking.

Over 210 tech firms have partaken in a consultative dialogue upon the invitation of the telecom and Prime minister Abiy Ahmed’s direction.

A handful of participants have been heard of voicing their concern over the capacity of the existing telecom infrastructures.

Nahom Nigussie, participant in the meeting, said the existing telecom infrastructure was built several years back without considering further telecom advancement.

Another panelist has also doubted how the incoming companies would bring satisfactory telecom services while using the “existing outdated telecom” infrastructure.

Even Ethio telecom, which expects to lease its infrastructure, is struggling to provide up to the standard telecom services, he said.

Over 7,123 mobile towers and 22,000-kilometer fiber optics are built across the nation, according to Ethio Telecom, which owns the facilities.

The existing telecom infrastructure has enough capacity to cover 85 percent of Ethiopia’s geographic area and 95 of the population, said CEO of Ethio Telecom Frehiowt Tamiru while responding to the questions.

Although Ethio telecom’s physical and network infrastructure is progressing at the most, there is still a consumers’ usage gap due to several reasons, said the CEO.

“We built our infrastructure taking a single market into account. However, through continuous improvement, It can accommodate more telecom companies,” she said.

Frehiwot, however, reflected on the openness of the market for new telecom companies whether to build new infrastructure or just to use the existing telecom infrastructures.

The government anticipates to collect up to 1.6 billion US Dollars from renting the existing infrastructures, which means the real intention is reaping the benefits from the already built infrastructure, said the CEO.

By Sisay Sahlu

Featured Image: Ethio Telecom’s CEO Frehiwot speaking at the consultative meeting on Thursday