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TMCNet:  Ethiopia sees mobile subscribers hit 18 million mark [Bikya Masr (Egypt)]

[December 11, 2012]

Ethiopia sees mobile subscribers hit 18 million mark [Bikya Masr (Egypt)]

(Bikya Masr (Egypt) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Mobile subscribers in Ethiopia cross 18 million mark.

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and ICT Minister Debretsion Gebremichael reported that the country has seen its mobile subscribers cross over the 18 million mark.

Gebremichael added that the government is now “trying to increase access to ICT in the country as well as improve its quality.” Opening the 2nd Annual Ethiopian ICT Entrepreneurship Conference on Monday, the deputy PM said ICT infrastructure was expanding.



“The number of mobile subscribers in the country was now over 18 million and of these,” the Minister said, “3.4 million mobile subscribers used the system to access internet service.” The aim for the country is to be able to reach 45 million subscribers by the end of the 2014.

He noted that “wireless coverage of the country had now reached 73 percent.” It comes on the heels of efforts to introduce mobile money into the East African country.

Ethiopia is expected to hit the 7 percent mark in growth this year and Addis Ababa believes that they can go over the 10 percent growth annually in the near future. One of the ways to continue to boost the country's economy is by moving it towards a cashless one, the ministry said.

Although mobile penetration is increasing, there are worries that without a higher penetration level, especially in rural areas, the country's idea of mobile money could fall on deaf ears. But Internet services are getting boosts with new networks, which leaves the government hopeful that by pushing a mobile money market they can also push the telecom sector forward.

"When we look at the most successful electronic payment systems, they are those that are open, completely open, and the government sets standards for how different entities can participate," said Elizabeth Buse, Visa's group president for Asia-Pacific, Central Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the company's fastest growing geographies, in comments published by nazret.com.

The acquisition of phone payment company Fundamo last year was a "marker of its tech-savvy Africa expansion plans." With companies like Visa looking to assist Ethiopia in creating a mobile market for a cashless society, the ministry believes this will make the transition easier and help create more opportunities for investment within both the telecom and banking sectors in the near future.

Their first challenge is to continue expanding the mobile market in order to create a market for the cashless payment options to be plausible.

BM (c) 2012 Bikya Masr Provided by Syndigate.info an Albawaba.com company

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