The Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and King Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden visit Ericsson, the museum. Demonstration by the president, Sven Ture Åberg, of the first Ericsson telephone.

Ericsson has done business in Ethiopia for a long time. Sales of telephone receivers commenced in 1894, and Ethiopia remained faithful to the company. Ericsson currently has a 90% market share of fixed-line network services. The breakthrough occurred during the 1950s when Ericsson started to supply 500-point switching systems. Ericsson had clear links with Ethiopia, since the head of the national PTT was a Swede, and supplies of telecom equipment formed part of a development assistance project in which the UN was also involved.

Ethiopia ordered its first crossbar switching exchange in 1961, and Ericsson continued to supply equipment for the large-scale installation of automatic exchanges. Five years later a relatively large exchange with 10,000 subscriber lines went into service in Addis Abeba, the capital city. Ericsson opened a technical office in Addis Abeba in the following year.

The technical office was closed in 1974, but Ericsson opened a representative office in Ethiopia in 1997, in conjunction with the installation of a 280,000-line AXE system. This was part of a major project partly financed by SIDA, the Swedish International Development Authority.

Author: Mats Wickman

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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