ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s first Smartcard manufacturing plant is set to start operations next month after signing an agreement with Ethio Telecom for the supply of GSM SIM cards.
Lootah Industries PLC, a local firm that owns the manufacturing plant located in Haile Garment area of Addis Ababa , announced the facility will start the production of GSM SIM cards starting from November 2021.
The construction of the 4 million US Dollar high tech facility – with a capacity of manufacturing 40 million smartcards per year – took only two years, a top company official said, “despite the challenges faced by Covid”.
“I am pleased now to announce that we have established the first smartcard manufacturing facility in Ethiopia and East Africa,” said Ibrahim Saeed Ahmed Lootah, the Chairman of the Lootah Group of Companies.
The chairman appreciated the Ethiopian government for “its bold vision to liberalize the economy, telecom sector and attract new high-tech industries to Ethiopia”.
“We are committed to serving the people of Ethiopia and provide them with the best technology possible,” he said.
Deal with Ethio Telecom
Lootah Industries Plc has already landed first agreement to supply SIM card to Ethio Telecom – the state-run telecom services provider in Ethiopia.
Sachin Ingle, General Manager of the facility, said the three-year agreement with the telecom firm was singed in September 2021.
The delivery of the first batch of SIM cards will take place in November 2021, Sachin Ingle, General Manager of the facility told EM News.
The facility also eyes more deals with other companies, according to the GM.
The government of Ethiopia is currently pushing ahead with its plan of liberalizing the telecom sector, which would allow two international firms to operate in the country. It has so far issued one operation license for Safaricom-led consortium and another one is already on the pipeline.
Lootah’s officials believe their company capable of filling any smartcard demand both in telecom and other sectors that need their supplies.
“The facility is built to world class standards keeping in view the requirements of this industry. We invested in the best German equipment to ensure the highest standards of quality,” said Prateek Dayal, the Executive Director for Lootah Industries.
“We have a long-term vision, and we will move into the banking and National ID sectors soon,” he added.
The factory has been designed to easily increase its current capacity to 120 million smartcards as more operators enter the country, Banking and ID businesses come online and the exports start, its officials said.
Also on the expansion plans is an investment into a production line to manufacture Telecom Scratch cards (Voucher Cards) which can produce 1 billion PIN’s per year.
Enough for the local requirements of Ethiopia and some exports, the company said.