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The incumbent telecom operator Ethio Telecom has made its partnership agreement with 20 Master Agents exclusive ahead of the launching of Safaricom Ethiopia.

The deal, which allows Ethio Telecom to make these massive distributors its sole agents and prohibit them from getting into a similar agreement with Safaricom, was signed yesterday, May 6, 2022.

Seven of these companies that signed the agreement operate at the national level and include Ethiopost, the national postal carrier, Hidase Telecom, and TelePort. The remaining 13 master agents operate at the zonal and regional levels.

These companies that have already been distributing Ethio telecom products such as SIM cards, card vouchers, and telebirr services can now also open Ethio telecom franchise shops.

The state-owned telecom operator has 509 shop centers and 134 franchise shops. Ethio telecom sells and distributes its product and services using a hybrid model of its own network and agent network.

The distribution network with a hierarchical level, mainly involves master agents, agents, and retailers. Ethio Telecom has 68 Master Agents, 9,448 agents, and 350,102 retailers.

“Billions of birr in Airtime move through these distribution channels every month,” said a source close to the case.

“But Ethio Telecom never signed an exclusive agreement with these distributors as it never had competition. This promoted Safaricom Ethiopia to approach these distributors and sign them to work with the private telecom operator too,” added the source.

According to another source, Safaricom, which is expected to launch its operations anytime soon, has so far signed close to 26 major agents.

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