Safaricom, Ethio Telecom in Talks to Share Towers in Ethiopia


Ethiopia’s telecommunication space is truly being more liberalised. At the moment, Safaricom is negotiating an infrastructure sharing deal with Ethiopian rival Ethio Telecom as it prepares to launch operations in the country over the next couple of months.

Safaricom-Ethiopia Chief Executive, Anwar Soussa, said they are currently working with Ethio Telecom and the regulator- Ethiopia’s Communication Authority (ECA) to finalise details of the partnership.

The Safaricom-led consortium is expected to invest $8 billion on critical infrastructure and services in Ethiopia over the next decade.

Meanwhile, the company may be forced to use its rival’s cell sites, masts and other active elements such as network roaming as it sets up shop.

Network sharing is a strategic solution for new entrants into a market already dominated by an incumbent operator and encouraged in developed markets.

In this instance, the parties have to agree on charges, the load-bearing capacity of towers, space within sites, tilt and height of the antenna and adverse effects on quality of service (QoS) when antennas are combined and differing standards employed by the equipment vendor.

Site sharing, mast sharing and network roaming are the most common forms of infrastructure sharing due to their relative technical and commercial simplicity.

Safaricom is not relenting and is also setting up its own infrastructure. This has been unveiled its first China-assembled data centre in Addis Ababa.

Built for $100 million, the facility was deployed less than a year after the consortium led by Safaricom, South Africa’s Vodacom and Japan’s Sumitomo was awarded a mobile operating licence.

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