The ICT sector in Ethiopia is shaped by sector regulation that was approved in 1996 to create a single national operator. The national ICT policy that governs the ICT sector was drafted in 2005. The policy's vision was to attain:
"…the social and economic well-being of the people of Ethiopia through the exploitation of the opportunities created by ICT for rapid and sustainable socio-economic development, a robust democratic system and good governance."
The mission of the policy was to develop:
"…Ethiopia into a socially progressive and prosperous nation with a globally competitive, modern, dynamic and robust economy through the development, deployment and exploitation of ICT within the economy and society."
To achieve the above vision, the government has crafted various programmes with the aim of:
- Creating an enabling policy, regulatory and legal environment for the growth and utilization of ICTs,
- Developing the necessary ICT human resources, infrastructure, rural access, ICT standards, and local content,
- Strengthening the capacity of public institutions to facilitate the mainstreaming of ICTs for socioeconomic development, and
- Facilitating the use of appropriate technologies for development of applications and content for rural development, good governance, and service delivery in priority sectors.
In an effort to implement the ICT policy, the government has launched a series of high profile projects. Various government institutions also launched several applications – including a national web portal.
The reform of the communications sector began by separating the regulatory and the operational functions through the establishment of a regulatory entity, the Ethiopian Telecommunications Agency (ETA) by Proclamation 49/1996, and a commercial entity, the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) by Regulation 10/1996. Before 1996, the Ethiopian Telecommunications Authority had acted both as a provider of communication services and the regulator of the sector.
In its thirteen years of operation (1997-2010), the regulator, ETA was active internationally and regionally. ETA was a founding member of the Association of Regulators of Information and Communication for Eastern and Southern Africa (ARICEA).