Kider is among the 134 former employees of the
former Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ECT)
who have been assigned a new position at the newly
established Ethio-Telecom, the French company that
beat 13 other bidders to acquiring a share of the
Jemal, who spoke to Fortune on condition of using a
false name for the sake of his job security, was
employed for a year by the ETC, which was
established in 1952.
He first attained a new position as an accountant
for ETC in one of the northern regions, where he
lived alone. While attending a training session for
the company in December 2010, he was informed that
he was being transferred to the Addis Abeba Branch
of the new Ethio-Telecom, forcing him to leave home.
Initially, the former ETC selected 14 telecom
companies for an international bid it had issued.
Some proposed to be shareholders of the company,
rather than accepting the management contract. As a
result, only five companies made offers for the
contract, Debretsion G. Michael, minister of
Communications and Information Technology (MoCIT),
had told Fortune.
The bids were evaluated based on the companies’
proposals, taking into account key performance and
quality indicators set as parameters by the
International Telecommunications Union (ITU). These
included quality and penetration of the network,
revenue generation, as well as capacity building
which were used as a parameter of selection.
The tender was awarded to France Telecom Group with
an offer of 667.2 million Br. The biggest part of
the evaluation counts the technical proposal, while
the financial offer amounts to the smallest bit,
according to Debretsion.
Only two companies passed the technical evaluation:
France Telecom Group and MTN, a South African
company. From this final list, the former was
selected to administer the former ETC for the next
After selling his belongings which he could not
bring to the city, Jemal moved to Addis Abeba where
he stayed in a hotel room until he found a house to
rent at 800 Br. In total, he spent about 5,000 Br
from leaving home until settling in his new house.
However, he had no problem in paying the amount,
since he had been provided with 3,000 Br from the
Although he did not have work for the first week
following his appointment, he did start performing
his duties immediately. To his surprise, he was
advised to return to where he came from as his
transfer was not correct.
“I had spent what I had and even sold my things at
the place where I used to live,” he told Fortune. “I
am very angry and frustrated. I was happy about my
accounting job at Ethio-Telecom but now I am not
sure what to do or what to expect.”
Members of the management who have made this mistake
will be held liable for their irresponsible actions,
Debretsion told Fortune.
Jemal is one of the close to 13,200 employees of the
former ETC of whom 5,000 were reappointed by the new
Since a new company has been established, people
needed to reapply for jobs, but the ministry gave
priority to former ETC employees with N4 positions
before starting to hire people from outside,
according to Debretsion.
The new management has a position division from N1
up to N5. N1 and N2 are appointed by the board of
directors, while the remaining positions are left
for those who are experienced and have good
educational backgrounds, as well as qualified former
For levels N3 to N5, the labour union was made part
of the jury to observe and participate in deciding
on qualified employees to be offered opportunities
at the new company. However, N5 positions are
identified based on their experience.
Before the announcement of the new employees, the
labour union would be notified to evaluate fairness
of the process, the minister had told Fortune.
Members of the labour union held meetings on
Wednesday and Thursday, February 9 and 10, at the
Ambassador Theatre. They were emotional and angry
with Debretsion, who chaired the meeting with
Aytenfisu Worku, project coordinator of Ethio-Telecom.
Thousands of former employees attending the meeting
were frustrated and said so to the minister.
“You should remember where you came from back in the
earliest days when you, as a fighter, lived in poor
conditions,” they told him.
“Calling the minister untruthful!” was one of the
slogans shouted by the frustrated and desperate
employees. The employees who claim to have been left
without anything after serving the company for years
I lived in that condition to ensure liberty for my
fellow citizens, the minister responded.
Former ETC departments such as Garage, Fuel,
Supplies, Clinic, Collection, and Drivers do not
form part of the new company.
Yet, Ethio-Telecom needs these services and a new
modality of supplying them has been created whereby
the company would outsource these services, the
minister explained to the labour union members.
Since the new company could not employ them, a share
company, affiliated with Ethio-Telecom but separate
from it, is to be established to organise them for
provision of these services not only to Ethio-Telecom
but also to other companies, according to Debretsion.
To start with, the company will be under the
government’s supervision, as it would be public
property, he said further. To purchase shares in the
company, former ETC employees can pay 50pc upfront,
while the balance can be paid at a later stage, the
However, this proposal was not welcomed by the
former employees, who requested compensation to
leave the company for good, an alternative proposed
by the minister.
In support of this, stood two engineers who had been
working for the former ETC for the past four years.
They have no interest to be employed there any
longer, they told Fortune. Along with many of their
colleagues, they had asked for their work experience
“No one has the courage to work for a company that
does not care about its employees to begin with,
while it has assigned former employees who are
deceased and people had who left the country,” one
of the engineers, told Fortune.
The employees who have not been assigned to any task
just come and go out from the Ethio Telecom at
anytime they want without notifying anyone.
Nobody seems to be in charge or control of the
working hours of employees and they just come and go
as they please, Fortune learned upon visiting the
However, all are being paid full salaries.
As a result of this apparent crisis, the company had
stopped collecting service charges for December’s
bills, delaying the payments, sources from the
company had claimed.
Ethio-Telecom eventually cleared this up, and sent a
text message to customers on Friday, February 12,
apologising for the delay in issuing the December
“Your collection centre is now ready for payment,”
the text message read.
These sources also claimed that the company had lost
12,000 Br and 1.5 million Br from Semera Town, Afar
Regional State, and Bahir Dar Town, Amhara Regional
State, respectively. The payments were allegedly
made by customers to employees in the town’s
collection centres before the latter disappeared,
claimed these sources.
While the former ETC is within its rights to
restructure its organisation, the company must
follow legal procedures while terminating the
contracts of its former employees, according to
Regan G. Medhine, a legal expert. It has to consider
the length of their service to the company and
educational backgrounds, he claimed.
“The employees would have an advantage if they
joined the proposed share company because in the
long-term they will benefit from not working as an
employee but as a shareholder with better income,”
Regan told Fortune.
Alternatively, it would be wise to invest the
compensation in something they want to do, according
to the legal expert.
Yet, some employees, such as Jemal, are seeking
reemployment with Ethio-Telecom and are waiting to
learn their fate in the company.
The end of the half-day meeting, which closed
without reaching a consensus, did not bring answers
for either Jemal or the employees who want to leave
The meeting was closed with Debretsion’s suggestion
that the former employees decide whether to join the
share company or take the compensation and go their
The employees are to fill out forms to choose their
next steps with the company as of this week.