Living in Ambo city, around 100 km west of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia which was the only city in the country that had 4G telecom services until recently, Merera Gemechu and his fellow community members had to struggle to catch modern telecom technologies.
Gemechu owns an Internet cafe in Ambo. Now, he is optimistic about the possibilities of tapping into the Internet world thanks to the newly launched fourth generation (4G) telecom services in the area.
Locals often flocked to Gemechu’s Internet cafe to access the Internet, in which the lack of 4G telecom services in the area had challenged his customers’ Internet experience.
Ambo is one of the central-west cities in Ethiopia that recently welcomed the introduction of 4G telecom services by Chinese hi-tech giant ZTE — a major partner of Ethio-Telecom, the East African country’s sole telecom service provider so far, along with Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
“I hope the launch of 4G telecom services in Ambo city is the start of the introduction of further modern telecom technologies in the city,” Gemechu told Xinhua, as he cherished the newly launched improved telecom services.
“My business is very much dependent on having up to date telecom services and with the launch of the 4G telecom services, I’m optimistic my business will further grow and even diversify,” he said.
Ethio-Telecom, which is recognized as one of Africa’s oldest telecom service providers, has more than 56.2 million subscribers, with more than 25 million data and Internet users.
The company, which aspires to increase its subscribers to 64 million by the end of the just-started Ethiopian fiscal year, is striving to expand its data and Internet users by 16.2 percent to 28.5 million.
As part of its ambition to provide modern telecom service to its users, the Ethiopia’s sole telecom service provider partners with Chinese tech companies, mainly Huawei and ZTE, to realize its 4G LTE telecom service expansion.
At a ceremony held Thursday in Ambo city to mark the launch of 4G LTE telecom service in the central-west Ethiopia, Frehiwot Tamiru, CEO of Ethio-Telecom, said the launch of the latest Chinese-built 4G services is part of the telecom service provider’s three-year growth plan to expand modern telecom services to more than 100 Ethiopian cities.
“The 4G service you’re using currently is 14 times faster than the 3G service you were using until now,” Tamiru told Ambo city dwellers as they welcomed the introduction of 4G LTE service in their area.
During the second half of Ethiopia’s last fiscal year that ended on July 7, Ethio-Telecom had connected 68 Ethiopian cities with 4G telecom services, in which the engagement of Chinese companies had been a major impetus.
Sun Yue, Wireless Chief Technical Officer of ZTE Middle East and Africa, said the Chinese firm has been striving to provide up to date technology to Ethiopia for more than a decade.
“Ten years ago, there was 2G here, and we could only make a call, five years ago we only had 3G, and we could only enjoy some data. Now, we have 4G LTE,” he said.
Sun emphasized ZTE’s commitment to provide Ethiopian customers with modern telecom services as early as possible.
Speaking to Xinhua recently, Zhang Bowen, deputy director of Public Relations, Huawei Northern Africa region, also emphasized the importance of Huawei’s partnership with Ethio-Telecom in expanding 4G telecom services across Ethiopia.
Amid swift modern telecom service expansion in Ethiopia lately, experts spoke highly of the socio-economic importance of introducing the latest technologies 4G LTE telecom service to Ethiopians.
According to Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, Chinese companies are major players in Ethiopia’s quest towards the provision of improved telecom service across the country.
The professor emphasized that the reliable data services that will be harnessed from high bandwidth and high-speed features of 4G LTE will enable and empower Ethiopians to digitize their services, increase productivity and improve Internet experiences.