Ethio Telecom signs deal with Chinese firm ZTE on phone infrastructure [Big News Network (United Arab Emirates)]
(Big News Network (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge)
ADDIS ABABA Ethio Telecom signed an $800 million deal with ZTE on Sunday to expand mobile phone infrastructure.
The new deal introduces a high-speed 4G broadband network in Addis Ababa and a 3G service throughout the rest of the country.
The agreement with ZTE is half of a $1.6 billion project split with Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. Huawei signed the agreement last month.
Andualem Admassie, acting chief executive officer of Ethio Telecom, said the agreement would enable Ethiopia to double subscribers to more than 50 million.
The expansion, he said, is vital to attain Ethio Telecom's objective of increasing telecom service access and coverage across the nation, as well as to upgrade existing network to new technology.
Most people in Ethiopia do not have access to phones or the internet.
Ethio Telecom is the only mobile operator in a country still under tight state control.
Its deal with ZTE, China's second-biggest telecoms equipment maker, is part of a telecommunications expansion project worth $1.6bn.
"The expansion is vital to attain Ethio Telecom's objective of increasing telecom service access and coverage across the nation, as well as to upgrade existing network to new technology," Andualem Admassie, acting head of Ethio Telecom, said in a speech at the signing ceremony.
Less than 1% of Ethiopia's 85 million people have access to the internet on mobile phones and 23% of the population subscribe to mobile phones, AFP news agency quotes the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as saying.
Ethiopia's decision to enter into a deal with ZTE shows China's growing influence in Africa, rivaling the investments of Western firms, correspondents say.
Andualem said the expansion was part of a "growth and transformation plan", an economic blueprint that aims to help Ethiopia reach middle-income status by 2025.
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