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Safaricom employs 300 in preparation for starting operations in Ethiopia

By Macharia Kamau | May 13th 2022 | 2 min read
By Macharia Kamau | May 13th 2022

Safaricom mobile phone logo. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Safaricom is readying to start its operations in Ethiopia this year. The firm said that Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia had covered much ground including hiring 300 personnel for the operation, with the number of employees expected to grow to over 1,000 by next year.

It is also concluding negotiations on infrastructure sharing with its rival Ethio Telecom and has also set up retail shops as well as contracted distributors.

"A lot of work is currently going on in Ethiopia with the aim of a full rollout of the network and commercial launch within the calendar year 2022,” said Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa when the firm released its financial results for the year ended March 31, 2022, yesterday.

In its venture in Ethiopia, Safaricom has partnered with Vodacom, Vodafone, Sumitomo Corporation and British International Investment (formerly CDC Group). Ndegwa said Safaricom Ethiopia is well staffed to start operations, including having in place a management team and a board of directors.

“We have also recruited a team of over 305 staff of which 50 per cent is local talent with plans of reaching 1,000 in the next financial year,” he said.

"Our sales and distribution channels set up is progressing well and we have on-boarded 29 distributors, secured four retail shops locations and set up our first outsourced call centre in Addis.”

“We have also built two data centres, made our first test call, sent our first SMS, did our first data session and also successfully tested our SIM card registration process.”

Ndegwa said Ethiopian operation is entering into an infrastructure sharing deal with its competitor Ethio Telecom to share telecommunications towers that could ease rollout of its network in the country. Rival telcos usually get into such commercial deals that ease the burden of network rollout.

"After a period of negotiations and with support of Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA), we are making progress in terms of establishing a mutually beneficial partnership with Ethio Telecom on the key terms for interconnection, transmission capacity and tower sharing,” said Ndegwa.

"On April 13 (this year) we reached in-principle agreement with Ethio Telecom on the key terms at a meeting convened by the ECA. The companies are now working together on the finalisation of these important agreements and the implementation required for our commercial launch."

The firm is however yet to get the go ahead to rollout its mobile money platform in Ethiopia. M-Pesa has over time proved to be key for Safaricom in Kenya and last year accounted for 38 per cent of its revenues.

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