Ethiopia is one of the last countries in Africa to allow its national telco a monopoly on all telecom services including fixed, mobile, internet and data communications. For many years Ethio Telecom’s monopolistic control stifled innovation, restricted network expansion and limited the scope of services on offer. However, a management contract with Orange Group has dramatically improved the company’s performance, though there remain weaknesses in quality of service. Although the contract was considered a first step towards sector privatisation and the introduction of competition, the government has rejected calls to progress along these lines, citing the need for higher profits from the company to subsidise unrelated projects.
Although there is considerable investment in telecoms services – some $3.1 billion has been invested in telecom infrastructure and service expansion projects over the last decade – the sector is heavily regulated and the government has complete control over networks, with virtually unlimited access to the call records of all phone users and to logs of internet traffic. Most of the technologies deployed have been provided by ZTE and Huawei, which have often been favoured for offering vendor financing. […] CONTINUE READING