Still no new service will be operational before July
Ethiopian Communication Authority (ECA) refutes the claim of extending the deadline for the commercial launching date of Safaricom Ethiopia.
Safaricom Ethiopia fails to meet its agreements with the Ethiopian government which was supposed to be in early April, which Safaricom was supposedly starts its commercial launch.
As sources had explained to Capital, the authority was signaled to have extended the commercial launching deadline verbally for Safaricom to July, 2022. However, the authority through its letter sent to Capital has clarified that it has by no means extended the date.
Based on the agreement with the government and its license operation, the new telecommunications entrant was supposed to start after nine months following its license award, but that has faced setbacks in the timeline.
In response to Capital’s query regarding its operation, last week Safaricom Ethiopia stated that; “We are continuing preparations for our commercial launch in 2022. An important part of this, as announced is reaching in principle agreement with Ethio Telecom on interconnection, transmission capacity and tower and power-sharing.”
Safaricom had announced that it completed building its own network, customer handling system and test calls in various cities, including Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, Hawassa, Dire Dawa and Harar. And as sources from Safaricom had indicated, the telecommunications firm was to start its operation after inking the agreement with Ethio telecom in order for the agreement to become operational.
Safaricom Ethiopia is said to rely on Ethio Telecom’s infrastructure in order to offer its services to users. In its response, the company has also indicated that both companies are working towards concluding these agreements in accordance with the regulatory framework overseen by the ECA.
Accordingly, as sources from Ethio telecom explain, preparing the agreement needs a lot of work and even if the two parties sign the agreement within a short period, it will take at least 3 or up to four months for the deal to be operational.
On Wednesday, April 13, 2022, the two companies expressed that they have successfully concluded multi-round negotiations together with the regulator, ECA, on infrastructure sharing and interconnections, with agreements to be signed soon.
The agreement is said to last for 10 years on infrastructure sharing and interconnection. Severe disagreements had earlier arisen between the two companies regarding the price and currency of payment and under this agreement, the payment will be in both currencies, with varying ratios across the infrastructure type.
The agreement in principle with Ethio telecom was announced barely a month after the telecom operator signed an infrastructure-sharing agreement with the state-owned Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU) to deploy its aerial fibers.
Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia, which won an operating license in Ethiopia in May 2021, has commenced works for telecom expansions in the country. Safaricom Ethiopia which is formed by the amalgamation of Safaricom, Sumitomo Corporation, CDC Group and Vodacom secured operational license from the government to officially do business in Ethiopia as a second telecom company after the state-owned Ethio Telecom.
Safaricom, which paid 850 million dollars for a 15-year license, is moving ahead with its infrastructure development project, having contracted Huawei and Nokia for its network development.
Capital’s efforts to reach out to Balcha Reba, Director General of ECA, for further comments on the issue have been unsuccessful.