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Safaricom will second its staff to run Ethiopian operations.

Safaricom’s Kenya staff to help set up Ethiopia unit. Plans to employ the strategies that saw it overtake Airtel Kenya.

Safaricom is planning its next move in Ethiopia after acquiring the country's telco license. The next move takes the form of deciding the personnel that will set up its unit in Ethiopia. According to reports, Safaricom has agreed that its Kenyan staff will be responsible for setting up its unit in Ethiopia but plans to reduce its Kenyan expertise and add more local talents as the business expands

“We will need to second several people to be able to inject the level of expertise, both on the technology side, but also on the commercial side. But quickly  start to embed local talent, to ensure that their flavour of the business will start being Ethiopian. We intend to make sure that long term that business is truly Ethiopian.” Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa

Safaricom will kick off its operation in Ethiopia next year, and it will have its own CEO, executive team and a full management team. Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said the telco is out to achieve a high network coverage in a market with more than 100 million people and a relatively lower uptake of mobile and internet services.

Safaricom will look to repeat the same trick in Ethiopia that saw it overtake Kencell (now Airtel Africa) in the mobile phone market nearly two decades ago. Safaricom chief finance officer Dilip Pal says the telco's strategy in Ethiopia is to build a high-quality mobile network instead of just competing on price.

“The fundamental to our success in that market is building a great quality network. Once we do that, we believe that the digital services that we can offer to our customers will enable customer stickiness.” Safaricom chief finance officer Dilip Pal

Apart from providing a solid network, Safaricom will look to provide funds for individuals to buy mobile phones - a tactic that was very successful in Kenya.

“From day one, we will make sure that (there is) the mix of the portfolio of device financing, attractive offers for customers to buy, going to our retail or they go to an open retail.” Safaricom chief finance officer Dilip Pal

It will be interesting to see how things turn out between Safaricom and its competitor - State-owned Ethio Telecom. Recently, Ethiopia launched a tendering process for the proposed sell-off of a 40 per cent stake in Ethio Telecom to private investors.

Ethiopia in focus

GDP: $95.913 billion compared to Kenya's $95.503 billion in 2019

Population: 112,078,730 compared to Kenya's 52,573,973 in 2019

GDP per capita: $855 compared to Kenya's $1,816 in 2019