July 25, 2013
Ethiopia on Thursday signed a $700 million agreement with Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to expand mobile phone infrastructure and introduce high-speed 4G broadband network in the capital Addis Ababa and 3G service throughout the country.

Huawei, the world's second largest telecom equipment maker, has been involved in developing phone and internet services in the Horn of Africa country for several years.

Africa's rapidly expanding telecoms industry has come to symbolize its economic growth, with subscribers across the continent totalling almost 650 million last year, up from just 25 million in 2001, according to the World Bank.

Andualem Admassie, acting chief executive officer of state-run Ethio Telecom, and Jony Duon, his counterpart at the Chinese firm, signed the agreement that will double subscribers to 56 million.

"Although our target is 40 million, now including 3G it will 56 million by 2015. That would be the capacity," said Debretsion Gebremichael, Ethiopia's deputy prime minister and minister of communications and technology.

The agreement is half of a $1.6 billion project split between Huawei and ZTE, China's second-largest telecoms equipment maker. Both firms will finance the amount. Ethiopia will sign the other half of the agreement next week, Debretsion said.

Ethio Telecom is the only mobile operator in the country of more than 80 million people, one of the last remaining countries on the continent to maintain a state monopoly in telecoms.

Although lacking much of a telecoms industry, the government last year gave approval for private companies to provide value-added services - all services other than standard voice calls.

Ethiopia's ministry of communications and information technology says it has received applications from 218 firms to provide such services. South Africa's MTN Group, Africa's largest mobile phone company, has already been granted a licence.

The government has ruled out liberalising its telecom sector saying the six billion birr ($321 million) it generates each year is being spent on railway projects. Ethiopia plans to build 5,000 km of railway lines by 2020.

Source: Reuters

June 5, 2013
Competition to Harness ICT Talent

The ICT Centre of Excellence (CoE) and the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MoCIT) launched the annual ICT Ethiopia competition – which offers prize money of 200,000 Br to each of the winners – on Thursday, May 30, 2013.

Taking place for the third time, the ICT innovation competition is split into two categories – the main category, open to every professional and student and a women-only competition, sponsored by MTN Ethiopia.

The competition will cultivate the skill and potential of a future group of ICT entrepreneurs, said Debretsion Gebremichael, deputy prime minister and minister of the MoCIT, during the launch at the Hilton Hotel.

“We are pleased to launch this competition, which we believe will help us achieve our goal of positioning the country at the forefront of developments in ICT,” he said.

The competitors are expected to develop mobile applications, which will help to achieve the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Growth & Transformation Plan (GTP). The 12 focus areas, include – primary education, child and maternal mortality, trade, finance, agriculture, transport & communication and culture & tourism.

The competition takes place in phases. Students, individual developers, start-ups and Small & Medium Enterprises and groups of up to four ICT professionals will first submit their abstracts, between June 1 and July 15, 2013. Those who pass the first screening will go through to another assessment stage and will be given four days training, in August, on – entrepreneurship, tech business networking and presentation skills. Then there will be mentorship sessions with ICT professionals for 10 days, in September. They will make their final presentations in October and nine finalists will be picked in the same month.

The winners will be awarded during the ICT Conference & Competition Award Ceremony, taking place from November 28-30, 2013.

“It is especially hoped that the competition will offer people with ICT related intellectual properties to create market opportunities, in order to allow the country to take advantage of the untapped potential in the sector,” said Debretsion.

The winners will receive up to 200,000 Br in cash and developer laptops, according to Alemayehu Seifu, Consultancy & Outreach manager at the CoE.


April 3, 2013
Special Report: 11th Innovation Africa Digital Summit


Presentations from Innovation Africa Digital Summit 2013, Addis Ababa :