Safaricom launches Sh11bn data centre in Ethiopia

Safaricom Ethiopia has launched its first data centre in Addis Ababa as it rolls out its services in the new market.

The new data hub, set up at a cost of $100 million (Sh11.3 billion), comes less than a year since the consortium led by Kenya’s Safaricom, Vodafone, and Japan’s Sumitomo received a mobile operating licence from the Ethiopian government.

Safaricom plans in the next five years to build two more data centres, in capital city Addis Ababa and the city of Adama. It also intends to establish more than 7,000 network towers in a bid to cover half of Ethiopia’s estimated 110 million people. Safaricom noted that the establishment of the data centre is an important step as the consortium starts commercial operations in the country.
The telco intends to launch full operations in April this year.

“On February 5, 2022, the first successful voice call was made using Safaricom’s network with the code ‘07’. Text messaging, internet access, and other network services followed successfully,” stated Pedro Rabacal, Safaricom Ethiopia chief technology officer.
The firm said it has deployed in Ethiopia the requisite infrastructure for adopting M-Pesa, Safaricom’s mobile money service.

“The Ethiopian government has affirmed that it intends to allow the consortium to provide digital financial services after establishing an environment that is conducive for competition,” said Matthew Harrison-Harvey, Safaricom’s chief external affairs and regulatory officer said.
Safaricom intends to invest more than $8.5 billion (Sh966.8 billion) in Ethiopia over the next ten years.

Since the company was granted license, it has invested more than $300 million (Sh34.1 billion), including investment in the data centre.
Harrison-Harvey revealed that talks are underway with Ethio Telecom to share infrastructure, especially in terms of expanding Safaricom Ethiopia’s capabilities outside of Addis Ababa.

Mr Rabacal said telecommunications resource sharing provides mutual benefits to all parties involved, noting that it is one of the most common practices in the industry.

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