Internet Service Suspended in Eight Regional Towns in Ethiopia


Ethiopian incumbent ETC continues to provide evidence of why Government-owned telcos are incapable of providing effective roll-out and consistent service. It has suspended Internet services in the seven towns of Oromia, Amhara and Harari regional states, as well as in Dire Dawa town.

The towns that have had Internet services temporarily suspended as of July due to “over subscription” are Shashemene, Nekempte, Jimma and Adama (Nazareth) of Oromia, Dessie and Gondar of Amhara, Harar of Harari Regional State, and the entire Dire Dawa town.

A letter that Abnet Asrat, temporary general manager of Broadband Strategic Business Unit (SBU) wrote to Amare Amsalu, chief executive officer (CEO) of ETC and copied to other offices, requested the approval of the suspension of Internet services to these areas. The reasons cited for the suspension are over subscription and a jammed bandwidth. In other words, ETC has failed to provision effectively for customers who actually want and can pay for service.

ETC has a maximum of 16 megabytes per second (mbps) link between Addis Abeba and the respective towns of Shashemene, Dessie, Dire Dawa and Adama. Harar and Gondar share the link from Dire Dawa and Bahir Dar, respectively, according to Abdurahim Ahmed, ETC corporate communication division manager.

The reason behind the selection of the mentioned towns over others is that the corporation has already reached the bandwidth limit in those towns. The recent subscription trend and feature in the towns indicate that the total average for Internet and data services for three months have shown monthly subscriptions revenue of approximately less than one million Birr US$104,000).

The resumption of the services requires upgrading of the transmission link between Addis Abeba and the regional towns. An ongoing expansion project that is expected to lead to the recommencement of Internet services in the eight towns, would cost more than 916,000 dollars, Abdurahim told Fortune. And this from a company that was supposed to have completed a national fibre backbone some years ago.

The eight towns, half of which are from Oromia, including its capital, will remain disconnected for at least three months until the ongoing internet optimization project managed by Cisco is finalized. "It is estimated to last for twelve weeks, as per the Cisco company's plan," ETC states.

Amhara Regional State has the second highest number of the towns affected. Dessie and Gondar, where people, unaware of the latest move by ETC, will also have to experience the exasperation of seeing, "The page cannot be displayed" dialogue box on their computer screens.

Addis Fortune