Ethiopia signs $1.6bn LTE deal with ZTE, Huawei

Ethiopia’s government has signed a $1.6bn deal with Chinese vendors ZTE and Huawei, in a bid to expand mobile phone infrastructure and introduce 4G broadband to the capital Addis Ababa. The deal will also see the rollout of a 3G service across the rest of the country.

The project is split between ZTE and its domestic rival Huawei, with each contract worth $800m according to news agency Reuters. Both firms will provide low interest vendor financing to Ethiopia.

The country’s only mobile operator, state-run Ethio Telecom, said the agreement would enable it to double mobile subscribers to more than 50 million.

“The expansion is vital to attain Ethio Telecom’s objective of increasing telecom service access and coverage across the nation, as well as to upgrade existing network to new technology,” Andualem Admassie, acting CEO said in a speech according to Reuters.

In December 2012, Ethio Telecom announced plans to deploy LTE services in Addis Ababa as part of a programme of 26 projects aimed at improving service provision, customer handling and communication, and network expansion.

“We have also developed new products and services to offer to enterprise customers such as business mobile, machine to machine business solution and 3G VPN, and upcoming products such as hybrid business mobile, GPRS and prepaid roaming services,” said former CEO Bruno Duthoit at the time.  “However we believe that these efforts are not quite enough and we have a long way to go to reach the level of customer satisfaction we aim to.”

He added that the plans will help the operator to tackle issues such as network congestion, lack of coverage, lack of bandwidth availability.

At a roundtable event in London in January this year, operator group Orange identified opportunities in Ethiopia, where it is already providing services to Ethio Telecom. The operator added that it is keen to exploit any opportunities if and when the country opens the market up to new entrants.


The LTE Asia conference is taking place on the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

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