An Outlook on Ethiopia’s Mobile Evolution  

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Mobile phones and the internet have become a part of the daily life for Ethiopians with more people going with faster communication and the modern way of doing business. Ethiopia’s booming telecom industry serves close to 24 million mobile subscribers across the country. The state made Information Communications Technology (ICT) one of the developmental priorities to integrate the country into a global economy.

The transformative emphasis on technology led to the introduction of 4G (fourth generation)  mobile service offering a high speed link. The network offers much faster speed than the 3G which allows users to browse with speedy internet connection. As part of the $1.6 billion mega telecom projects to expand mobile infrastructure, 4G is serving 400,000 subscribers in the capital cit+y. The brand new system has a monthly package ranging from $21 for 2 gigabytes to $180 for 30 gigabytes. A similar project also targets 60 million additional subscribers doubling the existing 3G capacity.

According to the World Bank Research, in Africa telecom subscribers totaled 650 million in 2013, a significant improvement over the total of 25 million in 2001. Similarly, in Ethiopia the ICT industry has registered a substantial growth of mobile subscribers with 64% coverage. By continuously upgrading the service, the country declares the importance of technology to increase and maintain economic growth.

Mobile internet users grew by 1.2% since 2012 driven by increasing use of social media networks. Ethiopia reached more than a million users increasing social media users by 20% between 2012 and 2013.  Currently, two-thirds of African adults have access to technology browsing health information, price data and banking services.

To cope with the growing demand, Addis Ababa rolled out 10,000 km fibre increasing mobile transmission network and number of mobile subscribers by 45%. The first  e-government strategy approved in 2011 projects the implementation of 219 e-services comprising of 79 information and 140 transaction based services. Mobile devices, call centres, websites will facilitate the service delivery.

The private sector is also active in offering e-services, Travel.Jumia.com a leading online hotel booking service provider introduced e-booking in Ethiopia bringing more than 500 hotels online. The company delivers best hotel booking experience to customers with fast, best negotiated price, transparent and easy-to-use services.

Since the introduction of landline phones during the era of Emperor Menelik II and the implantation of the broad spectrum of ICT, the society has been benefitting from the industry. Mobile phones have become more than symbols of status rather they are essential devices connecting the world.

The system is experiencing a shift from the landline as a means of promoting services to the use of mobile phones. The country transformed from the low curve of coverage to a new momentum of development implementing mobile banking system to improve the way business is done with value added services.

Ethio Telecom has come a long way improving from inflexible procedures, lack of infrastructure and underdeveloped capacity to enhanced infrastructure and introduction of new services. The service has revolutionized the speed and ease of communication,  studies have shown that growth in telecommunications generates revenue which contributes to overall GDP growth. It can reduce transaction costs for business and increase efficiency of markets upgrading service delivery potential.

 

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