Ethiopia makes headway in telecommunications

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Ethiopian farmers and traders are now on equal footing thanks to the country’s expanding network of mobile telephony, according to The Ethiopian Herald.

“The spreading of telecommunication services in Ethiopia is inseparable with the development strategies that are bringing the country great achievements in all sectors,” said the government-run daily in one of its editorials this week.

Looking at telecommunications as a lever of development, the paper said that Ethiopia’s agricultural sector had a boost from the expansion of telephone and other communication technologies over the last 10 years.

With digital telephony, a state monopoly under the management of Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC), the number of landline telephone subscribers has increased fivefold from 200,000 in addition to 1.5 million cell phone users in the country.

According to The Herald, progress in the telecommunication sub-sector was a result of the support that the government provides for the ETC.

A decade ago, rural areas fared worse than cities such as Addis Ababa where 70 per cent of the telecoms lines were concentrated. “The small farmer, long neglected and isolated from technology, has recently become a practical reason for ETC to reach out as much as possible into remote areas,” said the paper.

Though the geographical digital divide has been slightly narrowed as far-flung towns and rural communities get telephone services over a series of masts, connections at peak times are still a nightmare, even within the capital city, let alone for international calls.

With a population of nearly 80 million, Ethiopia needs to do more to catch up with advancing technologies of telecommunication and build a fast network that can meet the rising demand for a better service.

“The fact that we are living in an age of information presupposes the multiplication and easy accessibility of information technology to the public,” the daily pointed out.

In another leader on economic and social development in Ethiopia, ‘The Herald’ claimed: “The country is growing in such a speed that it is outpacing most of sub – Saharan countries.” The paper, however, gave no comparative statistics.

Referring to the proposed construction of two dams that could be used to irrigate over 80,000 hectares of sugarcane plantation in the eastern Ethiopia region of Afar, the daily added that the undertaking would translate the nation’s vision of enlisting its name as a middle-income economy.

The Ethiopian government has set aside 2.8 billion birr (approximately US$ 280 million) for the venture, the paper revealed quoting the Water Resources ministry. Panapress .

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