Safaricom has reportedly begun negotiations on a new infrastructure sharing deal with Ethiopian rival and state-owned entity Ethio Telecom. This comes as the Kenyan telecom company and its consortium of investors prepare a much-anticipated launch in the Horn of Africa country over the next month.
CEO of Safaricom in Ethiopia, Anwar Soussa, says that the company is currently working with Ethio Telecom and state regulator Ethiopia Communication Authority (ECA) to finalise all the details of the partnership.
Safaricom is seeking to leverage the sparse, but already-existing tower infrastructure, as well as cell sites, masts and other active elements such as network roaming, that Ethio Telecom is maintaining to boost its initial launch, with the telco and its consortium expected to invest $8-billion on critical infrastructure and services in Ethiopia over the next 10 years.
“Ethio-Telecom and ourselves both have a commitment to Digital Transformation Agenda. We are currently working together to establish a ‘win-win partnership’ to achieve this,” Soussa says, quoted by Business Daily Africa.
“We are currently negotiating on national roaming and infrastructure sharing in line with the telecom proclamation and regulation framework overseen by the ECA,” he added.
Network and Infrastructure Sharing
According to Business Daily, the act of ‘network sharing’ is a common strategy employed by new entrants in a market already dominated by an incumbent operator, such as Ethio Telecom, or in very developed markets festooned with many already-established firms.
Site sharing, mast sharing and network roaming are the most common forms of infrastructure sharing due to the relative simplicity in terms of technical and commercial aspects.
The two parties will now have to find common ground on things like charges, the load-bearing capacity of the towers, the actual space within sites, tilt and height of the antenna and any adverse effects on the quality of service that the sharing could create.
While the sharing deal is expected to be finalised sooner rather than later, Safaricom has been busy establishing its own infrastructure as well – last week the telco deployed a brand-new data centre facility in Addis Ababa costing upwards of $100-million.