Ethiopia’s Ethio Telecom posts 14% rise in half-year earnings

By Tiksa Negeri

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) -Ethiopian state-owned telecoms company Ethio Telecom on Tuesday posted a 14% rise in half-year profit helped by growth in its mobile phone-based financial service Telebirr.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to 19.77 billion birr ($352 million) while revenue grew by 26% to 42.86 billion, CEO Frehiwot Tamiru said in a statement.

Subscribers to Telebirr, launched in May 2021, grew to 41 million of its 74.6 million total subscribers, Frehiwot said, while handling transactions worth 910.7 billion birr.

Ethio Telecom, a former monopoly, competes with Safaricom Ethiopia, which launched commercial mobile network services in October 2022 after winning the country’s first private telecoms licence.

Ethiopia’s telecoms industry, serving a population of about 120 million, was considered a big prize in Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s push to liberalise the economy after he took over in 2018.

But the country’s recurring security problems, legislative changes and concern about the government’s commitment to opening up its tightly controlled economy have deterred investors.

French telecoms firm Orange last November said it had decided to withdraw from buying a stake of up to 45% in Ethio Telecom.

($1 = 56.1275 birr)

(Reporting by Tiksa Negeri; writing by George Obulutsa; editing by Alexander Winning and Jason Neely)