Safaricom Ethiopia, a significant player in the telecommunications industry, has recently faced a significant challenge as it shut down its operations in Amhara, the second-largest region in Ethiopia.
This drastic move was prompted by the Ethiopian government’s declaration of a six-month state of emergency in the region on August 4, 2023.
The emergency was declared due to escalating tensions between the Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) and the Fano militia, a part-time militia in Amhara with no formal command structure.
The Fano militia, known for its support of federal forces during the civil war in the neighboring Tigray region, has become a focal point in the recent crisis.
The Tigray conflict concluded last November with a truce, but a perceived lack of attention to Amhara’s security by the national government has strained relations in the area.
The conflict in the Amhara region erupted on August 1, 2023, with clashes taking place in several locations, notably Kobo and Debre Tabor.
Subsequently, Fano took control of Lalibela Airport. In response, the government swiftly declared a state of emergency in the region, impacting millions of people who are now unable to use Safaricom’s services.
Full Impact on Safaricom Ethiopia Shutdown
The full impact of this shutdown on Safaricom Ethiopia’s 1,272 network sites has not been publicly disclosed, but the company’s chairman, Michael Joseph, has expressed concern.
The shutdown has interrupted the company’s momentum for growth in this vast nation. Michael Joseph emphasized that stability in Ethiopia is of paramount importance, as a volatile environment can create significant challenges for effective operations.
Safaricom Ethiopia has ambitious plans for expansion in the country. By the end of 2024, the company aims to have 3,000 network sites in Ethiopia.
As of now, Safaricom Ethiopia already had 875 network sites built across 22 cities in the nation, with an additional 397 collocated sites.
The company has 2.1 million 90-day active customers and has set a goal of reaching 10 million customers by 2024.
Despite the setback caused by the shutdown in the Amhara region, Safaricom Ethiopia remains committed to its plans to introduce mobile money services in the nation before the end of the year.
This initiative demonstrates the company’s determination to contribute positively to Ethiopia’s telecommunications landscape, even in the face of challenging circumstances.
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