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Safaricom Champions Infrastructure Sharing in Ethiopia: A Call for Policy Reforms and Monopoly Breakup in Kenya’s Telecommunication Sector

The issue of duplication of telecommunications infrastructure remains a matter of concern. When I was calling for infrastructure sharing among telcos some people were of the opinion that Safaricom cannot share its towers since it has invested a lot.

Infrastructure sharing isn’t about giving away your towers to competing joyriders. It is about leasing them to other telcos in order to lower costs of operation. In doing so, you turn the tower into a revenue generating asset and not just a cost centre.

Interestingly, Safaricom is using infrastructure sharing to speed up the rolling out of its network in Ethiopia. Safaricom is leasing infrastructure from Ethio Telecom which was once a monopoly. Infrastructure sharing lowers costs and is good for the environment.

In Kenya, ATC which owns and operates towers for leasing to telcos is currently putting up many new towers. Surprisingly, most of these towers are duplicating already existing ones. Most are just a few meters from the competitors’ towers. It would make more sense if such towers were put up in upcoming areas without towers.

CA needs to develop and enforce policies to ensure telcos share towers and avoid duplication of infrastructure. This is what will lower the cost of telecommunications and improve network quality. It will also ensure that even remote areas are covered.

Author: Ephraim Njega.

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