Ethiopia

Telecommunications

Ethiopia’s telecommunications system was rudimentary. Broadcast facilities were concentrated in a few cities, and telephones were limited primarily to government offices and businesses in Addis Ababa and regional capitals. Longdistance and international communications to two neighboring countries went via two radio-relay links: a modern 960- channel system that went south from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, and an older, twenty-four-channel system that paralleled the railroad line from Addis Ababa to Djibouti. Other parts of the country were linked by old and unreliable open-wire lines. International service, other than to Kenya and Djibouti, passed through the Atlantic Ocean satellite of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat) via a ground station just north of the capital. This ground station was capable of providing over 100 simultaneous high-quality telephone, data, and television links with the rest of the world.

In 1989 Ethiopia counted only 109,0000 telephones, or two sets per 1,000 inhabitants, one of the lowest per capita figures in the world. Only 84 percent of service was automatic; the rest still used outdated manual systems. Over two-thirds of the telephones were in Addis Ababa or Asmera; the remainder were scattered throughout a few of the larger towns or regional capitals. Most users were either government offices or businesses. International direct dial was available to some users in Addis Ababa. Local or longdistance calling was difficult, however, with frequent busy signals for uncompleted calls.

Broadcast service was also limited. In mid-1991 the country counted four medium-wave AM radio stations, two in Addis Ababa and one each in Asmera and Harer. A shortwave transmitter south of the capital broadcast “Voice of Ethiopia” programming in English, French, Amharic, Arabic, and Somali to surrounding countries. Ten cities had lowpower television stations. In mid-1991 the nation had an estimated 9 million radio receivers and 100,000 television sets.

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