The state-owned telecom operator is about to achieve 25 percent of its ambitious revenue target that will add some nine billion birr more in the current fiscal year.
For the current Ethiopian Fiscal Year (EFY), Ethio Telecom has made a bold and ambitious plan that seeks to surge its revenue by 25 percent from last year’s 36.3-billion-birr revenue, beefing it up to 45 billion birr, this year.
Frehiwot Tamru, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ethio Telecom said: “The target was ambitious but achievable and we are in line with our plans.” In the first quarter of the current fiscal year, Ethio Telecom has managed to amass more than 10 billion-birr in revenues.
Despite the burgeoning growth in revenues, Ethio Telecom has been grappling with serious setbacks from telecom infrastructure tampering and thefts. In the first half of the current FY, 547 incidents of damages and thefts have been recorded mostly perpetuated by individuals, causing the telecom provider to face extra costs of 100 million birr.
The increasing trends have alarmed the operator, leading it to stage numerous campaigns across the country, fearing for the fiber cables that stretch 22,000 kilometers which are considered to be the most vulnerable telecom lines. According to the CEO, previously, the perpetuators were focusing on coppers cables that have some market value. But the growing incidents, now directed towards damaging the fiber cables in some respects, mirror political sabotages.
The company hires some 18,000 guards to protect telecom lines. Despite all the efforts, the thefts and damages inflicted have become so alarming that the CEO aired frustrations against the justice system and security apparatus. But essentially, Frehiwot directed her frustrations towards the public and said: “From whom shall we guard these telecom lines? Aren’t we Ethiopians who own these properties.”?
From assessments conducted, 52 percent of damages inflicted on telecom properties are caused by individuals who sometimes disguise themselves as employees of the company, and in broad daylight cut the lines. The political unrests have contributed some 18 percent to the damages while natural disasters contribute a 12 percent share. Furthermore, construction projects have also been exacting substantial damages on telecom cables.
The damages on telecom lines have significant impacts on corporates such as the Ministry of Revenues which has claimed of losing half a million-birr of revenues for every downing of telecom services. Similarly, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) which has 1.2 million transactions per day for 22 million customers also has claimed significant setbacks due to lack of telecom services.
Solomon Mekonnen, telecom strategic operations officer with Ethio Telecom, provided more details and said the telecom coverage has currently reached 45 percent. The company has managed to reach some 45 million mobile subscribers and some 22 million data users. However, it has now been made difficult to provide quality and efficient services as thefts and insensitive damages continue to rise.