In a speech in Addis Ababa, where the company officially signed an agreement to provide services in Ethiopia, the president said the deal was part of “our cherished journey to mutual prosperity.”
” Today’s event builds on mutual commitments from our respective governments, “said the President, referring to a visit to Ethiopia in March 2019 and a 2012 Special Status Agreement.
Both promote investment in the areas and improve relations through cross-border trade, tourism, energy, infrastructure and culture in a safer environment.
“It is a fact that we are in reality not two peoples, but one people who, through history, culture and development is connected with ambitions and much more. ”
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The President spoke after signing an operating agreement between the Global Partnership for Ethiopia Consortium and the Ethiopian Government.
With a majority stake by Safaricom, the consortium includes Vodafone and Vodacom, which UK CDC Group and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation.
The official award of the license and the formal signing of an agreement means that Safaricom and its partners can begin rolling out telecommunications services, becoming the first overseas company to offering such services in Ethiopia.
It also means that business relations between countries will continue even as Ethiopia battles global pressures, a humanitarian situation in Tigray in the north of the country where national troops are the Tigray People’s Pursue Liberation Front (TPLF).
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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed described the event as” a monumental moment for Ethiopia “.
President Kenyatta, led by the cabinet secretaries for foreign affairs Raychelle Omamo (Foreign Affairs) and Joe Mucheru accompanied by ICT could see another nut on trade ties between the two countries resolved.
The consortium won a license offer worth $ 91.8 billion ($ 850 million ) for operations in Ethiopia, defeating MTN of Mauritius, which bid $ 600 million ($ 64.7 billion). It has offered to invest $ 8 billion in Ethiopia over the next 10 years.
The company was declared a winner on May 22nd, and Safaricom paid the license fee and received permission to provide services last Wednesday across the country.
When it opened in November last year, 12 prequalified companies participated in the tender.
The license will be valid for 15 years, with a possible renewal for a fee .
Officials say the formal launch of the services should be expected in early 2022. The services will include voice, text, and data, as well as landline telephony.
During the ceremony, President Kenyatta asked the Ethiopian government to consider approving market participants to operate mobile payments, which is the success of M-Pesa in Kenya as a possible solution to tapping into the non-banks.
“Mobile financial services are also key to addressing various social inequalities, particularly gender-related inequalities,” he said.
” Women were particularly strengthened by these services and are now able to participate in the economy alongside men in a meaningful way. This is an area where we must make our joint efforts to bring the digital economy to life. ”
The President said the investment and further development of infrastructure, including border crossings and the port of Lamu, will be to help improve relations between the two countries beyond their traditional security cooperation to trade.
On Tuesday, the one-stop Moyale border crossing was officially opened to the public and is the first formal border point between the two countries, where immigration, customs and security checks are carried out under one roof to improve efficiency.