Safaricom has hired 305 staff for its Ethiopian unit as it readies to launch commercial telecommunication operations in the Horn of Africa country.
Safaricom chair Michael Joseph says 50 per cent of the staff are drawn from Ethiopia, with the rest from other countries, including Kenya and South Africa.
“We have 305 people now on our books in Ethiopia. Fifty per cent are from other countries and 50 per cent from Ethiopia,” said Joseph (pictured).
“Preparations are going in the right direction, and we are going to launch this year. It will be a challenge. It is not going to be easy, but it is a country with enormous potential.”
Safaricom had last November evacuated its employees from the Horn of Africa country because of civil war but resumed work in early January.
The telco has been stepping up its preparations ahead of the commercial launch that will see it start competing with Ethio Telecom—the only telco currently operating in the market of over 115 million people.
He said Safaricom is also keeping a close eye on the mobile money space to complement the telecommunications operations, noting that the telco hopes to get a licence in the “next few months.” “When we get a mobile money licence, which we have been promised by the government, we are hopefully going to launch within the next 12 months,” he said.
The telco disclosed last November that it had written to Ethiopia’s telecommunications regulator about the possibility of launching M-Pesa services in the country.
Clinching a mobile money licence would enhance the opportunity for Safaricom to hit the break-even point faster and grow its net profit beyond the Sh68.67 billion posted in the year ended March 2021.
Safaricom has been stepping up preparations ahead of commercial launch and recently signed a Sh1.6 billion deal to use Ethiopian Electric Power’s dark fibre to provide telecommunications service.