By Dawit Endeshaw
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) -Ethiopia’s state-owned Ethio Telecom on Thursday reported a 20% rise in half-year revenue to 33.8 billion birr ($633 million).
Subscribers to its mobile phone-based financial service Telebirr, launched in May 2021, grew to 27.2 million out of its 70 million total subscribers, CEO Frehiwot Tamiru told a news conference.
That was up from 21.8 million Telebirr subscribers in June 2022.
Rival Safaricom Ethiopia launched commercial mobile network services in October and now covers at least 21 cities across the country.
Ethiopia’s telecoms industry was considered the big prize in Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s push to liberalise the economy after he took over in 2018, due to its large population of 110 million.
Efforts to attract investment have been hampered, however, by a two-year war in the northern Tigray region, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions.
In November, the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a guerrilla force-turned-political party which dominates the region, agreed to stop fighting following African Union-mediated talks.
Also in November, the government revived a process to sell a 40% stake in Ethio Telecom and a separate plan to issue a second full telecoms licence.
($1 = 53.3974 birr)
(Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Writing by George Obulutsa; editing by Alexander Winning and Jason Neely)