Safaricom, has made significant strides in its quest to gain a foothold in Ethiopia’s lucrative telecommunications market. Just six months after launching operations in the populous country, Safaricom Ethiopia has reported a customer base of 2.8 million users as of mid-March.
This impressive feat is a testament to Safaricom’s commitment to expanding its operations beyond its home country and solidifying its position as a leading telecommunications provider in East Africa. Safaricom launched operations in Ethiopia on October 6, 2022, and managed to acquire 740,000 subscribers by the close of that month.
By mid-November, the telco had crossed the one million mark in customer base, indicating a steady increase in its market share in the country. However, Safaricom’s customer acquisition rate slowed down in the following months, with an average of 15,000 sign-ups daily compared to the 18,000 daily sign-ups witnessed between October and mid-November.
Despite the slight dip in the pace of customer acquisition, Safaricom’s strategy seems to be working, with the telco positioning itself to grab a significant market share in Ethiopia. The company is betting on offering quality telecommunications services and aggressively marketing its brand in a market where consumers have only had one provider for decades.
Safaricom is not alone in its quest to control Ethiopia’s telecommunications market. The company is in direct competition with Ethiopia’s state-owned Ethio Telecom, which had 58.7 million subscribers as of 2021. Ethio Telecom’s customer base is the biggest single-country subscriber base of any operator on the African continent, making it a formidable opponent for Safaricom.
However, Safaricom has proven its ability to compete and win in crowded markets before. In its home country of Kenya, the telco was able to overtake Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya by investing in infrastructure and innovations such as M-Pesa, a mobile money transfer service that has transformed the way Kenyans conduct financial transactions.
Safaricom’s success in Kenya is a testament to the company’s ability to innovate and adapt to changing market dynamics. The company is leveraging its experience in Kenya to gain a foothold in Ethiopia, a market that presents significant opportunities for growth and expansion.
Safaricom is also part of an Ethiopian consortium that includes UK’s Vodafone, South Africa’s Vodacom, Sumitomo Corporation, and British International Investment. This partnership gives Safaricom access to expertise, resources, and capital that will enable it to compete effectively with Ethio Telecom and other players in the market.