Ethiopia’s state-owned telecom operator, Ethio Telecom, has introduced 5G mobile phone networks in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Ethio Telecom hopes the move will give it an edge over the upcoming competition – a consortium of international telecom providers entering the country’s lucrative market for the first time.

The move gives residents in selected places in Addis Ababa the chance to get 5G mobile networks on their mobile phones with data speed 20 times faster than their current 4G networks.

Ethio telecom plans to introduce some 150 5G sites in and outside the capital in the coming year.

The expansion of the network however is dependent on “the readiness of the players in the ecosystem”, including the availability of 5G enabled devices and smartphones, the company said in a statement.

Chinese telecom giant Huawei is supplying the necessary equipment for the services.

Ethiopia had closed its doors to international telecom providers until it introduced measures to liberalize the sector by selling a service license last year to a consortium led by Kenya’s Safaricom.

A government proposal to partially privatize Ethio Telecom by selling 40% equity share capital of the company was postponed indefinitely last March due to what it called global and domestic “fast-moving macro-economic changes”.

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