Safaricom Ethiopia has shut down its sites in the country’s second-largest region, Amhara after the Federal Government declared a state of emergency in the latest setback to hit the telco's operations in the populous nation.
The Federal Government on August 4 declared a state of emergency following fighting between the military and the Fano militia.
“Ethiopia is indeed a tough market. The most important thing is the stability of the country and the ability to operate right across Ethiopia," Michael Joseph, the Safaricom Ethiopia chairman told the Business Daily.
"Today as you know there is a state of emergency and we cannot go to the Amhara region and had to shut our sites down there. All these are challenges that we have to deal with,” he said.
The listed telecoms firm has not disclosed how many of its 1,272 sites have been affected by the shutdown, but Mr Joseph said the development has derailed the firm’s expansion momentum in the vast country. Safaricom targets having 3,000 network sites in Ethiopia by the close of 2024.
As of its latest filings, Safaricom Ethiopia had 875 own built network sites with another 397 collocated having covered 22 cities in the country.
The subsidiary had 2.1 million 90-day active consumers with the target for 2024 being 10 million.
The telco, however, says the challenges notwithstanding the plan to launch its mobile money service in the country in the near term remains on course.
Safaricom was granted a licence for mobile money services by the Federal Government of Ethiopia in May with the investment licence costing US$150.0 million of which Safaricom paid US$84.0 million.
Safaricom Ethiopia reported a Sh21.7 billion loss in the period ended March 2023.