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Renson Mwakandana

Four months after missing the operational debut in the country of the Horn of Africa, Safaricom Ethiopia has started a large-scale customer trial of its network in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia’s second-largest city.

The experiment is part of the telco’s progressive city-by-city roll-out before the October nationwide launch in the second-largest city in Ethiopia after the capital Addis Ababa, with an estimated population of 500,000.

Residents in Dire Dawa are now able to buy SIM cards with the ‘07’ prefix, select their phone numbers, and use 2G, 3G, and 4G network services, the firm stated.

Safaricom Sim Card with the ‘07’ prefix available in Dire Dawa /TechArena/

Anwar Soussa, Safaricom Ethiopia chief executive officer, stated that: “We are excited to begin our customer pilot for Safaricom Ethiopia Dire Dawa. This is an important milestone we begin opening the network to customers to test the end-to-end readiness of technical and commercial operations ahead of full network launch.”

Safaricom Ethiopia CEO Anwar Soussa (right) with Asheber Balcha, CEO of EEP (left) /Khusoko/

For registration, the purchase of SIM cards and devices, as well as other client-support services, the company has established three customer care centers in Kezira, Meskelegna, and Cornell.

A welcome offer of internet, phone, and SMS for one month is included with the SIM cards, which are also sold at branded stores. Additionally, customers will be able to reload using airtime coupons.

Dialing 700 will connect you to the contact center’s customer support services in Amharic, Tigrigna, Somali, Afan Oromo, and English.

Data services, calls, and text messaging to or from Safaricom Ethiopia lines and the privately owned Ethio Telecom network will be available to customers. They can also place and receive calls abroad.

Ethio Telecom network in Ethiopia /Origins Business/

Following the goals of Digital Ethiopia, Mr. Soussa said that this customer pilot in Dire Dawa is part of switching on their network and services in 25 cities by April 2023, working in conjunction with the government, enterprises, local communities, and other stakeholders.

The business has made investments in its network and building infrastructure since receiving the license in July 2021, including its own mobile radio towers, national transmission network, and wholesale agreements for international connectivity.

The business announced last month that it had made investments totaling $1 billion (including the license fee), imported machinery worth over $300 million, established its own core network, IT, goods, and services set up a call center, and constructed two data centers.

Additionally, the telecom hired 500 people, 320 of them are Ethiopian with Safaricom going into the books as the first privately owned telecom business in Ethiopia.

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