After many pilots, it appears that Safaricom Ethiopia has finally officially arrived with the announcement that it has switched on its network and services in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
Following network pilots in ten cities, Safaricom is now the first private operator in one of Africa's largest telecoms markets. The network was supposed to launch in April but was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic and logistical challenges. Safaricom Ethiopia said it plans a national network rollout to reach 14 additional cities by April 2023.
It is, however, the sole private player; a nearly two-year-long war in the northern region of Tigray may have been one reason why additional licenses have been withdrawn.
So how will incumbent Ethio Telecom respond? According to local news service The Reporter, with music and video streaming.
Ethio Telecom reportedly issued a request for proposals for music streaming service providers and developers of a platform for video streaming services early this year. The music streaming services will be compatible with different devices and feature international and national music and songs, audio podcasts, religious content and talk shows.
The Reporter suggests that IPTV, Basekit (white label e-commerce, bookings and website builder software), Chatbots, Teledrive (a cloud storage service), Magic Voice (a service that allows callers to change their voice during a call), and mobile device insurance are among the new products under development by Ethio, with availability likely in the coming weeks.
Ethio has launched a number of mobile financial services in recent months as well as an eSIM service. As we reported in September, the company is said to have a new three-year strategy, with ambitions to grow subscriber numbers by 10.3% to 73.5 million over the next year.