Ethiopia’s monopoly telecoms operator Ethio Telecom is to replace its Nokia-provided infrastructure in a number of locations in the capital Addis Ababa, local news source Addis Fortune reports. It is understood that the telco plans to replace and upgrade its network in Ascot, Kolfe Keranio, Alem Bank, Mekanisa, Lebu, Jomo, Hanamariam and Akaki over the course of the next five months. With Ethio Telecom’s head of public relations Abdurahim Ahmed saying that the decade-old hardware needed to be replaced, the report also cites an anonymous source as claiming that the new equipment will be provided by Chinese vendor ZTE.
However, officials at the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCIT) have said that the new vendor has, in fact, not been decided, with Debretsion Gebremichael, Minister of Communication and Information Technology, stating: ‘Currently ZTE has the infrastructure to provide 3G services around areas allocated to Nokia and throughout the entire city, which will be considered when making the final decision. However, there is no final agreement with any one of the companies.’ ZTE and fellow Chinese vendor Huawei understood to be negotiating with the state over network expansion contracts, with the minister adding: ‘Both Huwawei and ZTE have their own proposals for the expansion project and the decision of their market and geographic area will be decided later.’
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in January 2013 reports revealed that Ethio Telecom is to divide the country into eleven infrastructure zones with a view to better managing its network in each area. ‘Circles’ are expected to be created using a number of different parameters, including demography, customer base and geographical location, with the new system expected to allow only one vendor within each circle. Such a plan, Ethio Telecom suggested, would allow it to ensure better operational management, while enabling it to improve maintenance times when there are network issues. As such, these zoning plans are expected to play a role in assisting the government in making its decision on the award of any new contracts.