Chinese companies to pour $1.5b to upgrade Ethiopia's telephone network

Three Chinese firms will invest $1.5 billion over the next four years to upgrade Ethiopia's telephone system, officials, quoted by an Associated Press report, said.


The report said Huawei Technologies, China International Telecommunication Construction, and ZTE, planned to expand the network as part of one of the largest financial investments ever made in the impoverished Horn of Africa nation, according to officials.


The companies were from among eight international bidders, among them Ericsson, Nokia and Siemens, the report said.


The firms aimed to boost the number of mobile phone users from the current 1.5 million customers to seven million. The number of fixed lines would be quadrupled from 1 million to 4 million users, the report further said.


The report said the project represented a huge investment in Ethiopia where annual incomes were just $100 and the annual gross domestic product just $8 billion.


The country frequently suffered severe food shortages and was unable to feed its 77 million people without foreign aid, the report said.


Chinese officials were not immediately available for comment, the report added.