The state monopoly Ethio Telecom (ET) targets to boost mobile network access to 113 million in the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II).
The telecom giant currently provides mobile telephone service to approximately 50 million subscribers.
Andualem Admassie, CEO of ET, told Capital that the telecom enterprise aims to provide mobile telephone service to a total of 91 million subscribers, which is nearly double the number of current mobile users. The rest 22 million will be open to avoid network congestion.
The plan was submitted to the Science, Communication and Technology Affairs Standing Committee and is waiting the approval of the parliament.
“The committee made recommendations on the plan. We will develop the final draft based on their suggestions,” Andualem said.
At a public dialogue organized to discuss GTP II with the business community on Thursday July 2, Chief Economist and Vice Governor of National Bank of Ethiopia Yohannes Ayalew said that in the coming five years, the telecom provider will enhance its capacity.
Broadband internet data subscription will grow to 39 million from the current 1.46 million subscribers.
Mobile internet data coverage will also grow from 8 million to 16.9 million users, while overall internet data coverage will grow to 10 percent from the current 3.3 percentage.
Andualem said that the telecom enterprise will not engage in significant infrastructural expansion in the coming five years. Rather, the enterprise plans to upgrade current infrastructure to accommodate the anticipated rise in subscription.
In GTP I, the telecom firm had targeted to reach 50 million mobile subscriptions. To attain the target, the telecom giant had undertaken massive infrastructural expansion and organizational reformation throughout the country.
The USD 1.6 billion network expansion project launched under GTP I has not yet been completed due to delayed negotiations with two Chinese telecom firms: ZTE and Huawei Technologies.
The telecom enterprise has awarded parts of the networking project to Ericsson, which won over ZTE in December 2014 because ZTE was unable to commence work according to the schedule.
The Swedish telecom giant globally tops telecom firms in terms of profitability. Ericsson is the first company to develop mobile infrastructure in Ethiopia in the early 2000s, installing mobile networks in Addis Ababa for 19,000 subscribers. Ericsson has a long history of providing telephone service to Ethiopia which could be tracked back to Emperor Menelik II’s era.
Developing 4G and 3G networks for the capital city and regional towns was part of the deal in the infrastructure development project awarded to the three companies.
4G wireless connectivity, developed by Huawei, has already started service in Addis Ababa.
ET said that the mobile telephone network expansion in the capital has nearly been completed. The remaining expansion projects are expected to be completed in the coming fiscal year.