– France Telecom restructures ETC
– ETC CEO to leave office for new executives
By Hayal Alemayehu
France Telecom, one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators, this week introduced a new structure at the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation shortly after taking over the management of the country’s sole telecom operator.
Officials of the France-based telecom company, a.k.a. Orange, announced the new structure that has yet to decide the appointments of the majority of ETC’s workers at a half-day meeting held at the Road Transport Authority hall on Wednesday, it was learnt.
The new structure classifies ETC’s workers and officials of France Telecom under five major categories: N-1, N-2, N-3, N-4 and N-5.
N-1 represents officials of French Telecom who will hold the top managerial positions including the CEO post while N-2 and N-3
incorporates senior level managers of ETC, according to informed sources who assisted the French company in forming up the new structure. N-4 encompasses mid-level managers of ETC.
All the personnel assigned under the N-1, N-2, N-3 and N-4 categories will be informed of their positions in their respective category by Monday next week while officials who clinched the top positions have already been made aware of their newly assigned posts.
All the same, the new structure has yet to decide the appointments of the majority of ETC’s employees accounting for over 90 percent of the total staff, according to informed sources. ETC has in excess of 13,000 employees currently. Classified under the N-5 category, the majority staffers will be assigned in various posts in accordance with their present assignments and as appropriately, informed sources told The Reporter. These employees will know their new assignments in the months to come. Until then, the majority of ETC’s employees will remain in their current duties.
While layoff has been a major concern for ETC’s low level workers ever since France Telecom took over the management, the staffers have been assured that there will be no job loss because of the new structures.
According to the deal cemented between ETC and French Telecom, the latter will mange the company in return for a definite service fee the former will pay for the service rendered. Unlike media reports released earlier on, the contract between the two parties will last for two years rather than three while there is no revenue sharing agreement between the two other than the payment for the service, according to senior ETC officials.
France Telecom officials will now start managing the new structure and Amare Amsalu, the current CEO of ETC, will soon leave office for the new executives. Amare has served ETC for a total of fifteen years, four-and-half of which in the top position he currently holds.
According to informed sources, Orange will manage the technical and administration departments though not the finance unit.
After managing ETC for a period of two years, France telecom will give the task back to Ethiopians who will by then be ready to take the job, according to informed sources.
“One of the major objectives of the contract is ensuring capacity building for the Ethiopian telecom sector,” a senior ETC official told The Reporter on condition of anonymity.
France Telecom will also take over and supervise ZTE’s USD 1.5 billion turnkey telecom infrastructure project before the Chinese telecom operator hands it over to ETC. The grand project being undertaken by the Chinese company is being finalized, according to sources.
“The fact that France Telecom will supervise ZTE’s project is crucial,” an economist who did a research on Chinese businesses here in Ethiopia, said. “That is exactly what they do in some other African countries when they have projects undertaken by Chinese companies in order to ensure the quality of the project. They hire consultants from the developed countries whenever they have projects undertaken by Chinese companies. That has been missing here.”
Orange was selected to manage ETC after beating South African and Indian firms.
ETC attracted scores of foreign companies when it floated the bid several months ago, inviting prospective firms to undertake its management. However, only three companies made it to the final selection.
MTN, a South Africa-based telecoms company represented in 21 markets in Africa and the Middle East, and Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL), an Indian state-owned telecommunication company, finally lost the bid to the French firm.
According to the terms of the deal, the French firm will introduce new schemes to reform the state-run telecom’s core operations, ranging from service provision to infrastructural maintenance. France telecom is also expected to earn ETC huge revenues by creating new markets.
The deal between the two parties was signed on March 24, 2010.
By partnering with Orange, ETC will join companies in 32 countries where the French telecom operator exists, rendering service to a combined number of 193 million subscribers.
The French telecom company has established its presence in some African countries including Egypt.
(Yibekal Getahun has contributed to this story)