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.