Search

 

Cablegate: Ethiopia: Laying Groundwork for Development

VZCZCXRO4163
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #1348/01 1230812
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030812Z MAY 07 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5927
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0432
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHINGTON DC 0018

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 001348

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF, AF/E AND AF/EPS
LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINV ECPS EINT ET DJ CH SU XW
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA: LAYING GROUNDWORK FOR DEVELOPMENT
THROUGH FIBER OPTICS

ADDIS ABAB 00001348 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On April 27, Minister of Transportation
and Communication Juneidi Sado and State Minister Getachew
Mengiste met with Ambassador and poloff to discuss the state
of Ethiopia's information and communications technology (ICT)
infrastructure and capacity building. Minister Juneidi said
Ethiopia had agreed to purchase 14,000 kilometers of fiber
optic cable from a Chinese vendor, possibly the largest
project of its sort in Africa. Juneidi said three years of
negotiations with Djibouti to connect to the Internet
backbone had not been productive, as Djibouti was interested
in immediate financial gain and less concerned about its
long-term commercial relationship with Ethiopia. END SUMMARY.

-------------------------------------
CHINA WINS TELECOM EXPANSION CONTRACT
-------------------------------------

2. (U) Minister Juneidi said Ethiopia had agreed to purchase
14,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable from a Chinese vendor,
4,000 kilometers of which have already been laid. The
six-person team currently monitoring the project would soon
be expanded to include additional U.S. and South East Asian
managers. Hailing the project as the "next generation" of
technology, the Minister asserted that it was the largest
fiber optics project of its sort in Africa.

3. (U) According to Ethiopian and Chinese state-run media,
Ethiopia's state-run telecommunications monopoly, the
Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (ETC), signed a 1.39
million birr (USD 158 million) agreement on April 27 with
China's Zhong Xing Telecommunications Equipment Company (ZTE)
to execute three telecom service expansion projects. The
project agreement includes the first phase of fiber
transmission backbone; expanding mobile phone service in
Addis Ababa and eight other cities by 1.2 million lines in
anticipation of the Ethiopian millennium celebration in
September 2007; and adding 652,000 wireless telephone lines.
The project would increase the number of fixed and mobile
telephone service subscribers to over 14 million
(approximately 18 percent of the population).

4. (U) The state-run Ethiopian News Agency reported that the
ETC-ZTE project calls for the installation of fiber optic
cable via Kenya, in addition to existing cable via Sudan and
Djibouti. Separately, ETC announced in February 2006 that
Ethiopia and Sudan were working jointly to extend a
220-kilometer fiber optic telephone line across the
Ethio-Sudanese border from Gonder to Gelabat, with the cost
of the extension being covered by the Government of Sudan.

------------------------
DJIBOUTI MISSES THE BOAT
------------------------

5. (U) According to Minister Juneidi, three years of
negotiations with Djibouti to connect with the Internet via
the Red Sea trunk had been non-productive. Juneidi expressed
concern about stymied telecommunications talks with Djibouti.
Djibouti officials were interested in immediate trade and
bidding opportunities, but less concerned about their
long-term commercial relationship with Ethiopia, he said.
Although the Minister continued to keep his "ears and doors
open" for transactions with Djibouti, he noted that over the
last 18 months, agreements had already been reached with
Sudan and Kenya. Observing that "everyone" (including Sudan,
Djibouti, Ghana, and Tunisia) "wants to be a hub" or "offer a
trunk," the Minister said he was asking potential partners to
clarify what, how, and where their hubs and trunks operated.

---------------
LONG-TERM GOALS
---------------

6. (U) Minister Juneidi underscored Ethiopia's need to
attract foreign direct investment, with a focus on fiber
optics infrastructure. As ICT will require significant human
capital, Ethiopian universities will need to produce scores
of IT professionals and engineers over the next 5-8 years, he
said. The Minister took issue with the Ambassador's
suggestion that Chinese vendors lacked the capacity to take
Ethiopian technology to "the next level," while highlighting
the potential for other partnerships with American companies
and a variety of stakeholders.

7. (SBU) In mid-May, Verizon representatives will visit

ADDIS ABAB 00001348 002.2 OF 002


Ethiopia to discuss long-term planning for security and ICT
signatures.

8. (U) Minister Juneidi and his team have visited ICT "smart
villages" in India, Egypt, and China, and hope to travel to
Silicon Valley shortly. The Ministry has acquired land and
completed the design for a similarly styled smart village,
and will soon be ready to break ground on the project.
Juneidi said that completing the ICT transformational process
would require a decade, and expressed hope that latter stages
of development of ICT infrastructure would attract long-term
American investment. Just as Addis hosted a large diplomatic
community, it also needed a community of long-term investors,
he said.

---------------
THE WAY FORWARD
---------------

9. (U) COMMENT: Prime Minister Meles has previously indicated
that Chinese partners have offered much more attractive
financing arrangements for telecom projects than Western
providers. (NOTE: According to press reports, the Chinese
government agreed in February 2007 to loan USD500 million to
Ethiopia, and to make provision for an additional USD1.5
billion in short-term trade credits. END NOTE.) It is worth
noting that while the GOE continued to expand its
infrastructure and fiber optic capacity, state-owned ETC has
not yet marketed broadband Internet access to consumers in
Addis at accessible rates. Post will intensify its
engagement with the GOE on telecom issues in an effort to
accelerate development and seek more opportunities for U.S.
firms. END COMMENT.
YAMAMOTO

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Cyclone Gita: 70% Of Tonga Population Affected

The full scale of destruction is beginning to emerge from Tonga in the aftermath of the severe tropical cyclone Gita. Around 50,000 people, or almost 70% of the country’s population, have been affected, a third of whom are children. More>>

ALSO:

Gita: Samoas Clean Up After Being Swamped By Cyclone

Apia in the wake of Gita Photo: Rudy Bartley The clean up is continuing in the two Samoas after Tropical Cyclone Gita hit on Saturday morning. More>>

ALSO:


Grand Coalition : Germany's two main political parties set to govern under Angela Merkel.

The liberal-conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) negotiated through the night in a marathon final push to nail down an agreement. More>>


80 Passengers: Kiribati Ferry Disaster

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are working with the Government of Kiribati to support children, families and communities affected by the recent Butiraoi ferry disaster. More>>

ALSO:

Campbell On: the US demonising of Iran

Satan may not exist, but the Evil One has always been a handy tool for priests and politicians alike. Currently, Iran is the latest bogey conjured up by Washington to (a) justify its foreign policy interventions and (b) distract attention from its foreign policy failures. More

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC