ADDIS ABABA, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia's first private telecom firm, Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia Private Limited Company (PLC), on Thursday launched its mobile telecommunications network and services in Ethiopia.
Safaricom Ethiopia switched on its network and services in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia on Thursday following network pilots in 10 cities across the East African country.
Following the launch in the capital, Safaricom Ethiopia's 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services are available in 11 cities, including the capital and the country's second-largest city Dire Dawa.
Anwar Soussa, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Safaricom Ethiopia, speaking during the launching ceremony, described the launch as "a momentous day."
The company further announced its plans to launch services in a total of 25 cities by April 2023 to meet the 25 percent population coverage obligation in its license.
Safaricom Ethiopia said it is building a wholly-owned mobile network and also has infrastructure sharing and interconnection agreements in place with Ethio-Telecom, Ethiopia's state-owned telecom company.
Safaricom Ethiopia is owned by an international consortium including Vodafone Group, Safaricom PLC, Vodacom Group, Sumitomo Corporation, and British International Investment (BII) - the UK's development finance institution and impact investor.
Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom PLC, on his part, expressed the company's aspiration to positively impact the people of Ethiopia with a sustainable and quality mobile network that will be a vital launch pad for nationwide digital telecommunications services to Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa.
"We are encouraged, of course, by the milestones made by Safaricom Ethiopia and what this business will contribute to the country's telecommunications reform and digital transformation but also inclusion objectives," Ndegwa said.
"Our intention is to ensure that everything we do, we do it for the people of Ethiopia and for the country of Ethiopia," he added.
Ethiopia awarded its first private telecom license in May 2021 to the Safaricom-led consortium for a license fee of 850 million U.S. dollars.
Ethiopia's telecom industry is considered a huge untapped market, as the east African country offers one of Africa's largest telecom markets.