Kenya’s Safaricom launched its mobile network in Ethiopia on Thursday, becoming the first private operator in one of Africa’s largest telecoms markets.
State-owned Ethio Telecom has until now enjoyed a monopoly in Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country with an estimated 118 million people.
Safaricom Ethiopia switched on its network and services in the capital Addis Ababa on Thursday following network pilots in 10 cities, it said in a statement issued late on Thursday.
Hours later Ethiopia’s finance minister, Ahmed Shide, said his government had granted the company a licence to operate a mobile money service.
Safaricom Ethiopia CEO Anwar Soussa said the mobile money service would take two to three months to roll out.
Safaricom leads a consortium entering the market including South Africa’s Vodacom and Britain’s Vodafone.