Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Internet in Ethiopia Revisited – A Mixed Bag of Progress and Opportunities on-Hold

Internet in Ethiopia Revisited – A Mixed Bag of Progress and Opportunities on-Hold
Samuel Kinde, PhD, April 2002

Two developments over the past 12 months capture the nature of progress and challenge in IT in Ethiopia. The eventual completion of the UNDP financed project in Spring 2001 that now added eight POPs (Points-of-Presence) in the provincial cities of Jimma, Awassa, Bahir Dar*, Nazreth, Mekele, Dessie, Shashemene, and Dire Dawa and increased bandwidth available to Internet users in Addis Ababa was a significant progress that was welcome by many IT enthusiasts in the country. On the other hand, the selective clamp down on Internet cafes by the Ethiopian Telecom Corporation (ETC) that went on for most of 2001, effectively neutralizing what had seemed to be a rapidly growing IT cottage industry only a year ago is, in many ways, indicative of the progress of IT in the country-one wrought with challenges and a slow pace. A year from the first article that reviewed the state of IT progress in the country, it is a mixed bag of progress and frustration that what we found. But, given how the rest of the country’s economy is doing, it must be added that there is a clear bias towards progress in IT that should be taken as encouraging.

Internet Connectivity in Ethiopia

Ethiopia's full Internet service, launched in January 1997, is run on a monopoly basis by the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC). The ETC operates a 10,240 Kbps connection, with 8 POPs and a capacity to accomodate 14,000 dial-up subscribers. This was achieved from the original 512 Kbps through an expansion project implemented by the Government working jointly with UNDP. It involved a funding of US$ 600,000 from UNDP and a contribution of US$ 700,000 from the government. The ETC introduced new tariffs as of August 2002 following the completion of the upgrading process. This has brought a 40 - 50 % reduction in monthly fees.
According to ETC's web site, the following tariffs are applicable to Internet services as of August 2002 (US$ 1.00 = Birr 8.57. This article was posted on UNEC Website. Please read more (http://www.uneca.org/aisi/nici/country_profiles/ethiopia/ethiointer.htm)