Credit: REUTERS/TIKSA NEGERI ADDIS ABABA, Jan 31 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s state-owned telecoms operator Ethio Telecom fell 13.6% short of its first-half revenue target, with parts of its network hobbled by military conflict in the north of the country, its chief executive said on Monday.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into the northern Tigray region to fight rebellious Tigrayan forces and the conflict engulfed two neighbouring states during the second half of last year.
Ethio Telecom’s revenue rose by 6.7% to 28 billion birr ($562.27 million) in the six months to Dec. 31, its financial first half, falling short of the company’s target, CEO Frehiwot Tamiru told a news conference.
Almost 3,500 base transmission stations belonging to the company were damaged during the fighting in the north, she said, rendering them out of service and costing the company 3.67 billion birr in lost revenue.
The war also led to the closure of some of the company’s sales outlets in the area.
Ethio’s 4G internet network, which previously covered only Ethiopia capital Addis Ababa, has now grown to cover 136 more urban areas, Frehiwot said.
Subscribers to Ethio Telecom’s financial service, known as Telebirr, launched in May last year and grew to 13 million by the end of December out of nearly 60 million total mobile phone customers, the company said.
Abiy’s government is liberalising the telecoms sector, having granted a new operating licence to a consortium led by Kenya’s No.1 operator Safaricom SCOM.NR last year.
($1 = 49.7983 birr)
(Reporting by Addis Ababa newsroom Writing by Duncan Miriri Editing by David Goodman)
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