Safaricom inks first infrastructure deal with Ethiopia

By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE

Safaricom, the newest telecom operator in Ethiopia, has signed a five-year lease agreement with state-owned power utility to share dark fiber-optic infrastructure in the Horn of African nation, the first infrastructure deal with Ethiopia.

The agreement was signed between Mr Ashebir Balcha, CEO of Ethiopian Electric Power enterprise (EEP), and Anwar Soussa, CEO of Safaricom Ethiopia.

Mr Soussa lauded Ethiopia’s move to cooperate with Safaricom in the infrastructure sector and expressed his company’s willingness to work with the EPP in a win-win situation.

“We are grateful for the spirit of cooperation from EEP on the win-win partnership to support our contributions to the digital transformation of Ethiopia,” he said at the signing ceremony, according to a statement issued on Saturday.

“Such infrastructure sharing agreements will enable us to fulfil our commitment to transform Ethiopian lives for a digital future and contribute to efforts being made to the phased operation launch.”

Safaricom says it has finalised preparations to launch commercial operations to provide telecom service to Ethiopians, becoming the first private and foreign entity to offer these services in the country.

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Mr Ashebir said the new agreement lays the foundation for the two enterprises to work together.

The shared infrastructure will be used as part of Safaricom Ethiopia’s network to provide national telecommunications services in forms of voice, data, video, text, messages, and conferencing, officials said at the signing ceremony.

Over the course of a few decades, EEP has built a network of Optical Ground Wire (“OPGW”) cables along of the core cables and it is expected that Safaricom will utilise these instead of building new ones.

According to EEP, the first phase of the lease agreement allows the Kenyan telecom firm to share 4,097km, the second phase 2,078km and the third phase 2,904km long optic fiber lines.

EEP’s high voltage transmission will be used as part of Safaricom’s network.

Optical Ground Wire is one of the most reliable fiber optic medium for Ethiopians in all corners of the country.

“The agreement we sign to share our OPGW infrastructure will enable Ethiopian Electric Power to utilise its resources and increase its revenue, while enabling Safaricom Ethiopia to provide quality and competitive telecommunication services,” said Mr Ashebir. 

Ethiopia’s state-owned electric producer currently has 15,000km of fiber optics lines out of which some 8,745km are leased to Ethio-Telecom.

Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) is expected to earn up to 140 million ETB ($ 2.7 million) a year in the first phase of its the infrastructure lease agreement with Safaricom Ethiopia.

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