Safaricom and Ethio to share tower power in Ethiopia

13 June 2022

Kenya’s Safaricom will share mobile telecommunication towers and relevant power with state-controlled rival Ethio Telecom in Ethiopia, after the companies reached consensus on interconnection and capacity lease agreements in the Horn of Africa nation.

The Ethiopia Communications Authority (ECA) held a joint mediation meeting with both operators and said that “agreement had been reached on all pending issues” such as sharing of tower infrastructure.

“The ongoing negotiations on tower and power sharing, transmission capacity lease and interconnection between Ethio Telecom and Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia Plc has been concluded in good faith,” the regulator said.

Ethio Telecom said it had “conducted a productive meeting with Safaricom Ethiopia” and adding that “the two companies will sign the agreements” soon.
Ethiopian prime minister Abbey Ahmed is prioritising privatisation of the telecommunications industry through licensing of new players such as Safaricom and partial privatisation of state-controlled operators.

Ethiopia would like to issue a second private operator licence but has delayed the process due to concern over social unrest and volatility in the country’s Tigray region, which is understood to be of growing concern to international investors.

Together with its “investment and deploying of Safaricom Ethiopia’s network” the agreements with Ethio Telecom “will be important foundations for our commercial launch” this year.

It is understood that Safaricom will build on the success it has achieved with mobile money in Kenya by rolling out operations in Ethiopia. The latter’s digital payments sector has been described by some industry luminaries as poorly developed and in need of major improvement.

Safaricom Ethiopia is backed by a consortium that includes regional and international telecommunication groups Vodacom and Vodafone.