The much-anticipated nationwide roll-out of services by Kenya’s Safaricom in Ethiopia has taken place on October 06, 2022, with the launching ceremony held in the capital of the country.

Customers will be able to buy SIM cards, select their preferred numbers, purchase airtime, and receive dedicated customer support in Addis Ababa at Garad Mall, Meskel Flower, Jemo, Bole (in front of Selam City Mall), CMC (beside Gast Mall), and all other branded souks (small shops). User can contact the call center by dialing 700 and receive services in five languages (Amharic, Afaan Oromo, Somali, Tigrigna, and English).

Prior to this, the company had conducted a series of successful customer network pilots in 10 cities across Ethiopia, namely Dire Dawa, Harar, Haramaya, Adama, Bahir Dar, Bishoftu, Mojo, Debre Birhan, Awoday, and Gonder. Currently, Sararicom’s 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services are available in all these cities in addition to Addis Ababa, with a plan to reach a total of 25 cities by April 2023 to meet the 25% population coverage obligation in its license.

The event, hosted at the Friendship Square in Addis, saw the attendance of HE Abiy Ahmed (PhD), Prime Minister of Ethiopia; HE President William Dr. Ruto, President of Kenya, higher government officials of Ethiopia; diplomatic community; the Ethiopian Communications Authority; board members and senior leadership from Safaricom PLC, British International Investment, Vodafone and Vodacom; and Sumitomo and partners.

HE Abiy Ahmed (PhD), Prime Minister of Ethiopia

On a surprising note, the inauguration ceremony saw the Ethiopian Minister of Finance, Ahmed Shide, grant a license to Safaricom for the importation of M-Pesa, a mobile money service, into the country. As such a deal was previously inaccessible to foreign investors, it will make the telecom the first outsider to join the mobile money race in Ethiopia. 

Kenyan President William Ruto, according to Reuters, said the mobile money license had not been agreed when he departed from Nairobi on Thursday morning, further nothing his plans to return to Ethiopia with a deal.

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