After announcing plans to launch commercial operations in Ethiopia within the year, Safaricom has now started large-scale customer pilot of its network in Dire Dawa.
Dire Dawa is a city in eastern Ethiopia and according to Safaricom, the pilot will be on 2G, 3G and 4G networks. Customers in the city will be able to purchase Safaricom SIM cards and choose their preferred number starting with the 07 prefix.
The SIM cards according to a statement from the telco will be available in branded shops and will include offers for data, voice and SMS. These offers will allow them to test the Safaricom network in the area for a period of one month.
Three shops in Dire Dawa’s Kezira, Meskelegna and Cornell areas will open to the public for customers’ SIM purchase and registration, dedicated customer care support as well as the purchase of devices. Customers will also have an option of accessing customer care services from the call centre in their preferred language including Amharic, English, Afaan Oromo and Ag-Somali by dialling 700 to speak to the customer experience agents.
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Commenting on the pilot, Anwar Soussa, Chief Executive Officer, Safaricom Ethiopia said this is an important milestone as the telco begins opening its network to customers in order to test the end-to-end readiness of technical and commercial operations ahead of full network launch.
‘’We thank the Government of Ethiopia, the Dire Dawa City Administration, the Ethiopian Communications Authority, community leaders, network, IT and distribution partners and all stakeholders for all their support towards realizing this and future milestones. We will continue to share updates, as we extend the network and customer pilot across other regions, towards our National Launch in October 2022,” he said.
In May Safaricom Ethiopia announced that it had recruited a team of over 300 staff, of which 50% is local talent in readiness for the commercial launch. The plan it said is to reach 1,000 in the next financial year. The business also has onboarded distributors, secured four retail shop locations and set up the first outsourced call centre in Addis Ababa.
Safaricom Ethiopia also secured approvals for towers development, built two data centres, made the first test call, sent out the first test SMS and completed the first data session.
Safaricom Ethiopia says its services will be available in 25 cities by April 2023.