SAFARICOM Ethiopia has begun a large-scale customer pilot of its network in the city of Dire Dawa, 350km east of Addis Ababa, the capital.
The company said Monday that this is the start of what it plans to be a phased city-by-city network roll-out across 25 cities, with ‘rigorous service tests building towards our national launch,’ telcom news portal Capacity Media reported.
This customer pilot will be on 2G, 3G and 4G network standards and customers are already able to buy SIM cards from three shops that the company has opened in the city.
Anwar Soussa (pictured), the CEO of Safaricom Ethiopia, said: ‘This is an important milestone. We begin opening the network to customers in order to test the end-to-end readiness of technical and commercial operations ahead of the full network launch.’
Safaricom Ethiopia, which is owned by Safaricom Kenya, with smaller stakes belonging to Sumitomo, the UK government and Vodacom, plans a national launch in October 2022, it said, though it will take until April 2023 to begin services in all 25 initial cities.
The first city, Dire Dawa, has a strategic location between Addis Ababa and the neighbouring state of Djibouti, on the Red Sea. Subsea cables landing in Djibouti will provide Safaricom with its access to world networks.
Meanwhile Safaricom has invited suppliers of towers and other equipment to show interest as it expand the roll-out of services across the country. The deadline, published on LinkedIn, is 13 September at 17:00 local time.