Ethiopia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

Ethiopia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Ethiopia was 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, in June 2019 the government approved legislation which will open the market to competition and provide much needed foreign investment. The process to part-privatise Ethio Telecom advanced in September 2019 when the company was audited, while two licenses are expected to be offered to two international operators by the end of the year.

Despite the stimulus from market competition, there has been considerable investment in telecoms services, infrastructure and service expansion projects in recent years. Ethio Telecom has secured a network monitoring platform to help it improve services and has also revised plans to launch a telecom satellite, while the government initiated the construction of a $3 billion technology city.

Most of the technologies deployed thus far have been provided by ZTE and Huawei, which have often been preferred for offering vendor financing. In preparation for competition in the mobile market, Ethio Telecom has placed the expansion of LTE services as a cornerstone of its investment program to 2022.

After years of low uptake due to prohibitive pricing, Ethio Telecom reduced tariffs by up to 50% in 2018, resulting in a sharp increase in data and voice traffic. With retail prices now comparable to other more developed markets in the region, pricing will come under further pressure from 2020 as the two international new operators launch services. This should be a catalyst for steady growth in all sectors in coming years.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:

Telecom regulator calls for expressions of interest for two telecom licenses;
National Bank opens up Ethiopia to m-money services;
Ethio Telecom secures mobile network monitoring platform;
Safaricom shows interest in securing a mobile licence;
Government audits Ethio Telecom in preparation for privatisation, sets up a new telecom regulator;
Fibre cabling on the Addis Ababa and Djibouti rail route to be used for telecom services;
Government launches mobile apps as part of the e-Government Directorate, announces plan for $3 billion technology city;
Major changes anticipated in the second Growth and Development Plan to 2020;
Report update includes Telecom Maturity Indexes charts and analyses, Ethio Telecom data to September 2019, assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Ethio Telecom (formerly Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation, ETC), EthioNet, Ethio Mobile, Orange Group, Tecno Telecom, Smadl, Tana Communication, Thuraya.


  • Executive Summary
  • Key statistics
    • Table Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities- Ethiopia - 2020 (e)
  • Country overview
  • COVID-19 and its impact on the telecom sector
    • ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS AND RESPONSES
    • MOBILE DEVICES
    • SUBSCRIBERS
    • INFRASTRUCTURE
  • Telecommunications market
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
  • Regional African Market Comparison
    • TMI VS GDP
    • MOBILE AND MOBILE BROADBAND
    • FIXED AND MOBILE BROADBAND
  • Regulatory environment
    • REGULATORY AUTHORITY
    • TELECOM SERVICE LICENCES
    • TELECOM SECTOR LIBERALISATION
    • PRIVATISATION
  • Mobile market
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • Table Growth in the number of mobile subscribers, and penetration - 2009 - 2024
      • Mobile data
        • Table Growth in SMS traffic - 2010 - 2019
    • MOBILE BROADBAND
      • Table Growth in the number of active mobile broadband subscribers, and penetration - 2009 - 2024
    • MOBILE OPERATOR
      • Ethio Mobile
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • 4G (LTE)
      • 3G
      • Other infrastructure developments
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • m-banking
    • MOBILE HANDSETS
  • Fixed-line broadband market
    • INTRODUCTION AND STATISTICAL OVERVIEW
    • BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table Growth in the proportion of households with internet access - 2007 - 2019
      • Table Growth in the number of fixed broadband subscribers and penetration - 2009 - 2024
    • PUBLIC INTERNET ACCESS LOCATIONS
    • FIXED-LINE BROADBAND TECHNOLOGIES
      • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) networks
        • Table Growth in the number of Ethio Telecom's DSL subscribers - 2011 - 2019
      • Fixed wireless
  • Fixed network operator
    • ETHIO TELECOM
      • Table Growth in Ethio Telecom's revenue - 2012 - 2019
    • WIRELESS LOCAL LOOP (WLL)
    • LEASED LINES, DATA SERVICES
    • VSAT
    • ORANGE GROUP MANAGEMENT CONTRACT
  • Telecommunications infrastructure
    • OVERVIEW OF THE NATIONAL TELECOM NETWORK
      • Table Growth in the number of fixed lines and teledensity - 2009 - 2024
    • RURAL AREA NETWORK
    • NATIONAL BACKBONE NETWORK
    • NEXT GENERATION NETWORK (NGN)
    • NETWORK DEVELOPMENT PLAN 2007-2012
    • GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT PLANS I AND II
      • Table Growth development Plan I and II objectives - 2015; 2020
    • INTERNATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Table International internet bandwidth - 2010 - 2017
    • SMART INFRASTRUCTURE
  • Digital economy
    • E-GOVERNMENT
    • E-LEARNING
  • Appendix - Historic data
    • Table Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1999 - 2009
    • Table Historic - Internet users and penetration rate - 1996 - 2015
    • Table Historic - Fixed internet subscribers - 1997 - 2009
    • Table Historic - Broadband subscribers - 2003 - 2009
    • Table Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2009
    • Table Historic - International internet bandwidth - 2002 - 2009
  • Glossary of abbreviations
  • Related reports

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