Ministry extols Ethiopia’s ICT infrastructure development

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Addis Ababa, December 12 (WIC) –Minister of Communication and Information Technology hailed the rapid infrastructural development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Ethiopia.

Minister Debretsion Gebremichael, who is also coordinator of finance and economy cluster with the rank of deputy prime minister, singled out successes in expanding accessibility of ICT.

“Just a few years ago, Ethiopia was lagging in terms of ICT infrastructure development,” he told WIC. “Now, the rate at which the ICT infrastructure development is growing is one of the fastest in Africa.”

Geographic coverage of mobile has reached 64 percent while wireless network coverage has reached 75 percent, the minister said.

“Because mobile coverage begins from urban areas while wirelss coverage begin from rural areas, there is an overlap [in coverage],” Debretsion said. “So, it is safe to say there is full accessibility except in few pocket areas.”

Mobile subscribers in Ethiopia are fast approaching the 20 million mark. Ethio-telecom, the state monopoly telecom provider, targets to have 45 to 50 million mobile subscribers in two years.

Mobile internet subscribers is also growing fast with the nuber currently surpassing 3.4 million users, Dr. Debretsion said adding that the focus of the government is now on improving quality of the service.

The minister attended the 2nd Annual Ethiopian ICT Entrepreneurship Conference 2012 on Monday, which was organized by ICT Center of Excellence (ICTCoE). On the occasion, six winners of the 2nd ICT Business Plan and Innovation/Application Development competitions were awarded.

Dr Debretsion said the competition helps to encourage the youth to participate in ICT. Besides coming out with problem solving innovations and business ideas, the platform will provide market opportunities for winners, he said.

ICTCoE was established by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and is hosted by Addis Ababa University. It is set up to foster  development of ICT and serve as a catalyst to make ICT a key enabler and accelerator of socio economic development in Ethiopia.