When the first time Internet was introduced to Ethiopia it was not actually planned for Ethiopians. The main goal was to reach the tourists and encourage Ethiopian tourism. Currently, less than 1% of the populations have access to the Internet, one of the least in the world.
As it was originally intended, Internet remained around foreigners, and foreign organizations. In early millinuem diaspora Ethiopians and college students start to use Yahoo! Mail services and pen pal sites (probably one of the first social media platforms in the world) as day to day Internet use. With 56kps modem connection, only the international organizations and universities were enjoying the relatively faster connection. Yahoo! Still remains the main email service in Ethiopia until now even the Ministers use it as an official email correspondence.
Introduction of Online Tools
The first social media was undoubtedly the Hi5. When MySpace was very famous in Western countries, Hi5 was the favorable one in Ethiopia. But it wasn’t just by chance, MySpace takes long time to load. As you can imagine opening a single multimedia web page with 56kps (usually about 10kps) takes considerable amount of minutes if not hours. For the students’ horror, MySpace was blocked by ethio telecom (formerly ETC) for long time. As the Ethio telecom has been straggling finding its working ground and role in the countries development, very little has been done really targeting Ethiopian citizens.
Generally bigger projects, yet designed and financed by foreign organizations, say the failed SchoolNet project and relatively working WeredaNet networks, haven’t created any tangible impact. The government owned monopoly, Ethio telecom, remains the main obstacle for Ethiopian Internet growth until now. The highest Ethiopian official once declared “Internet is a luxury material”. This is the generally accepted mindset when it comes to Internet. Obviously, the poor Ethiopians can never be an official target. I have tried to point out some of the main failure of Ethio telecom services in my previous posts. 
So in early 2000, Internet was just Yahoo! And Hi5. Google was used for searching information on the Internet, mainly for scholarships and financial aids.
Introduction of Facebook
Mike, a friend of mine, owns an Internet cafe. Out of curiosity, I asked him once if he can track what people browse to get the general information what people interested at. He almost laughed at me with my question, without thinking twice he said, “People stand in front of my door and asked me ‘Is there Facebook?’” For many, today, Internet is just facebook. The facebook penetration of online population is 111.19%. There are more facebook users in the country than the interent penetration. Yes, it exactly means, there are people who have facebook profiles but don’t use Internet.
This single platform, which happens to be a social medium, takes the ownership of the internet from forieners to Ethiopians! In the same time, for the first time in Ethiopian interent history, the target groups to reach through internet became Ethiopians themselves. Yet, this is not only a pleasant news. This one medium usage higher than the interent penetration means, the telecom company(s) – hopefully, Ethiopia will have more ISPs soon – has a hell of assignments to increase the penetration.
Part II: Focuses on what Ethiopians access online, the future of internet, and who is working what.