BUILDING A DIGITAL ETHIOPIA
With the upcoming finalization of the process for a full-service telecommunications license, Ethiopia is on the verge of accepting the largest private investment ever in the country. If it chooses to move ahead, the government decide to move forward with the digital transformation of Ethiopia, creating more than one million jobs and changing the lives of millions of people, famers and business owners. Such decision and announcement would create a positive ripple effect towards other investors eyeing Ethiopia for similar long-term and capital-intensive ventures.
Having experienced international telecommunications players coming to Ethiopia will create jobs, improve health services and the education system. In addition, the following sectors should be prioritised: agriculture, manufacturing, mining, ICT, the creative industry, and tourism.
Agriculture, the backbone of Ethiopia, can benefit from a mobile based technology system to provide agricultural-related services to farmers, leading to up to 35% increase in revenues. This is proven to promote smart agriculture, for example, by leveraging geo-spatial mapping and Internet of Things (IoT) sensor features to assist farmers in their planning. Another tool would be to establish agriculture industry exchange platform to empower smallholder farmers through education, financial services and harvest matching between buyers and sellers.
The Ethiopian government has identified the manufacturing industry as a key sector in which they are keen to increase employment significantly across professional, skilled and semi-skilled segments of the workforce. Experienced telecom players can bring great competitive advantages to the manufacturing sector, as they offer high-quality business communications that enhance the efficiencies of value chains.
Manufacturing, supported by IoT, will become much faster and efficient, creating new and more vibrant business sectors, enabling jobs to rise above existing employment levels. Industrial IoT applications will industrialize Ethiopia at scale, increasing both efficiency and productivity.
CREATIVE INDUSTRY & ICT
Over seventy local organisations have decided to team up with one of the bidders, the Global Partnership for Ethiopia, to help the government powering the nation’s much needed transformation- using ICT as a key engine of growth and a catalyst for economic and social prosperity. Aiming for maximum cooperation, they will work together to co-invest, implement, and help unleash the potential of Ethiopia’s economy.
In order to build such an inclusive digital economy for millions of SME’s and small entrepreneurs, Ethiopia deserves ubiquitous 4G broadband penetration in all regions, and 5G in major urban centers and in the strategic development zones.
Tourists in Ethiopia today are too often curtailed in their travel experience: either they are not informed which products or services are available in the places they are visiting either they cannot pay in an easy manner for these products and services. Easy on-arrival data packages, good coverage in touristic hot spots and augmented-reality applications when visiting one of the many historical sites in Ethiopia should allow a richer travel experience, benefit both visitor and local service provider.
As it may take time to ‘train the trainer’ in the volumes and quantities needed for Ethiopia, technology can leapfrog this organic growth of high quality education. Without ICT equipment and reliable and affordable internet access nothing came move ahead. Therefore equipping digitally schools throughout the country allows for e-learning, streaming tutorials and educational videos. Universities and other knowledge institutes could widely share their classes, complementing the current educational curriculum.
It is said that growth of mobile penetration by 10% will increase GDP by 1%. Currently in Ethiopia, low mobile penetration and service quality limit the potential of telecommunications to be a real driving force for positive change.
A more vibrant telecommunication arena will contribute billions to Ethiopia’s economy through additional SME productivity gains, agent commissions, direct salaries, personal and corporate taxes. On top of this comes direct injection of $billions following the license fee and the almost immediate FDI by the newly licensed telecom operator(s). These additional revenue stream can multiply the GDP per capita, accelerating Ethiopia’s population to reach lower middle-income status.
As the government accepts to build, in partnership with trusted and experienced telecom parties, both a social and economic project, it can position Ethiopia as an African icon of prosperity by 2030.