China's Huawei Technologies, the world's second largest telecom equipment maker will roll out a high-speed 4G network across Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababaas part of a 1.6 billion US dollar deal with Ethio Telecom and ZTE, to expand mobile phone infrastructure throughout the Horn of Africa country.
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (REUTERS) - Ethiopia's state-run Ethio Telecom picked Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world's second largest telecom equipment maker, to roll out a high-speed 4G network across the capital Addis Ababa.
The deal will enable Ethiopia to double subscribers to more than 50 million by 2015 and expand 3G service throughout the country.
"The 4G or LTE is expected to benefit more than 400,000 subscribers. Of course, this new Technology, the LTE technology will be implemented in Addis only. For the other regions, the 3G is expected to be in more than 30 towns," Abdurahim Ahmed, Ethio Telecom's head of communications, said at a news conference.
"In terms of allocation, Huawei will be responsible for the 4G in Addis including other services of the mobile services... this is 2G, 3G, IP and the like," he added.
Africa's rapidly expanding telecoms industry has come to symbolize its economic growth, with subscribers across the continent totalling almost 650 million last year, up from just 25 million in 2001, according to the World Bank.
Ethio Telecom is the only mobile operator in the country of more than 80 million people, among the last remaining countries on the continent to maintain a state monopoly in telecoms.
The situation leaves many customers frustrated with no options when there are network problems, says businessman Biruk Tsegaye.
"It (Ethio Telecom service) is not satisfactory at all. You cannot connect to someone you want to call. The network is very terrible. This problem has exacerbated recently. I think the problem is that they are selling more number of SIM Cards beyond the capacity of the network. I hope it will improve in the future," he said.
Consumers with a demand for faster communication services hope that this new deal will greatly improve internet access.
"Sometimes the customers are unable to log out of their accounts. We often quarrel with customers due to these types of situations. Sometimes, the connection disappears for over a week but we pay for its lease. How can we pay for the lease if we cannot work with it?" said Martha Girma, an employee at a local cyber cafe.
The government has ruled out liberalizing its telecoms sector, saying the 6 billion birr (321 million US dollars) it generates each year is being spent on railway projects. Ethiopia plans to build 5,000 km of railway lines by 2020.