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Ethiopia gets connected

Deal paves way for enhanced internet services in Africa's last telecoms monopoly.

Undersea cable systems are helping connect Africa to the rest of the world.
Undersea cable systems are helping connect Africa to the rest of the world.

Ethiopia is set to increase its international bandwidth capacity after the country's sole telecom operator, ETC, signed a deal with African cable operator Seacom for a backhaul link via Djibouti.

The deal, which will link Ethiopia to other African countries, Europe and India via the 17,000km Seacom cable, could help spur development of internet services such as IPTV and high definition video conferencing in Ethiopia, although significant price reductions are unlikely given ETC's status as Africa's last telecoms monopoly.

The deal ties in with ongoing investment from ETC and the Ethiopian government, which is investing $1.5 billion in a national initiative to improve the country's telecoms infrastructure, including a national fibre network.

Amare Amsalu, CEO, ETC, said: "The availability of high quality broadband at lower prices will accelerate economic development and educational initiatives and will also establish Ethiopia as an important commercial centre for Africa and as a regional transit point for other service providers."

Brian Herlihy, CEO, Seacom, said: "As we have seen in other countries that gained access to Seacom, it is only a matter of time before the direct socio-economic benefits created by cheap and readily available bandwidth begin to manifest in Ethiopia and the region."

The Seacom network, which was launched in 2009, connects countries in Africa to the rest of the world via France and Mumbai.