8 February 2014

Ethiopia: Network Blackout Hits Addis As Parliament Slams Ethio Telecom

As recurrent network disconnections continue to affect the nation, parliament has strongly criticized the "poor" performance of Ethio telecom in delivering an efficient service and its implementation of budget.

Two days of network failure came a few hours after the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication (MoITC) told parliament that it would solve the problem within two months.

On Wednesday, the Science, Communication and Technology Affairs Standing Committee in the House of Peoples' Representatives (HPR) criticized the six-month budget utilization of the Communication ministry, and stressed the need for carrying out compensation tasks in the remaining months of the budget year.

The office, which is run by Minister Debretsion Gebremichael (Ph.D.), who is also Deputy Prime Minister coordinating the finance and economic cluster, presented the six-month report, yet was represented by the state minister Getachew Negash during the committee hearing.

After listening to the report the committee chairman, Getachew Melese, urged Ministry officials that although 93 percent of the physical performance of the Ministry is successful, there is a serious problem of budget utilization. Of the total budget, the Ministry has utilized only 53 percent allocated for the reported period.

Concerning the telecom services, the public raises various inquiries in relation to accessibility and the quality of service.

The Ministry should take temporary measures until long-term solutions are implemented, although the problems remain in many parts of the country. According to the chairman of the standing committee, e-government infrastructural development, citizens charter preparation, comprehensive billing service, community radio service provision, standardization and regulatory of ICT, computer refreshing tasks, high manpower turnover, auditing, IT park, rural telephone expansion, planning tasks in coordination with other stakeholders are among the other shortcomings that the standing committee urges the ministry to give serious attention.

State Minister for MoITC, Getachew Negash said that his Ministry is relentlessly working to effectively use the budget in the remaining budget year, grappling with various complicated challenges of procurement.

On the other hand, the Ministry is working seriously providing radio, frequencies and other facilitate that curb communication barriers in areas where mega projects are carrying out. Besides, increasing telecom service to rural Ethiopia, the Ministry is signing various agreements with Huawei to improve quality of the service.

In addition, the state minister told the committee his office is working closely with the Addis Ababa City Administration to receive land for the construction of 500 telecom sites. Despite the state minister told the committee that the ministry is undertaking network expansion activities to tackle the problem in a couple of months, mobile service and internet connection have not been accessible this week.

Ethio telecom's Corporate Communication Director Abdurahim Ahmed told The Reporter that the network problem that occured in Addis Ababa for two days was caused by electric power shortages and interruption of transmission line due to construction.

According to Abdurahim, around 80 antennas had power shortage that caused total network disruption. In other move, the main transmission line that stretch from Sidst Kilo to Addis Ketema areas has been cut due to construction. He further said that after the corporation responded to maintain the transmission line, the service has now fully resumed.


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