Consortium including UK’s Vodafone and CDC Group awarded telecom licence

24 May 2021

Historic move will see over $8 billion invested – the largest FDI into Ethiopia

On 22 May, Ethiopia awarded a telecoms operating licence to the Global Partnership for Ethiopia – a private consortium comprising of UK’s Vodafone Group and CDC Group, Kenya’s Safaricom, South Africa’s Vodacom Group, USA’s Development Finance Cooperation, and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation.

This historic announcement forms part of the government’s plans to liberalise the economy and allow foreign and private investors into key state-owned companies, as part of the Homegrown Economic Reform Agenda.

“Today marks a decisive day for our economic reform path in Ethiopia,” Finance Minister, Ahmed Shide said. “With the liberalisation of the telecom market through a fair and transparent process, the government is enabling every Ethiopian access to quality services at an affordable price.”

The consortium plans to invest over $8 billion over the next ten years, creating up to 1.5 million jobs.

Reacting to the news, Prime Minister Abiy said, in a Twitter post, “With over $8 billion total investment, this will be the single largest FDI into Ethiopia to date…Our desire to take Ethiopia fully digital is on track. I would like to thank all that have taken part in this and for pulling off a very transparent and effective process!”

The Director-General of the Ethiopian Communications Authority, Eng. Balcha Reba said, “This decision ushers in a new era of telecom service development in our country which will benefit millions of Ethiopia to have access to quality and reliable communications services.”

According to Brook Taye, a senior adviser at the Ministry of Finance added that the consortium will provide 4G and 5G internet services, and by 2023 a low-orbit satellite will be put in place to provide nationwide 4G coverage.

Ethiopia’s telecoms industry is considered a big prize given the country’s population of 110 million people and potential for data services.

The selection of the consortium completes a transparent process that began in October 2020 to open Ethiopia’s telecom market to operators beyond Ethio telecom. At the end of April 2021, the Ethiopian Communication Authority announced that it had received two bids from South Africa’s MTN Group and the consortium.

…Ethio Telecom launches mobile money service

On 11th May, Ethio Telecom launched Ethiopia’s first mobile money service, Telebirr, which will meet the growing demand for digital financial services and ensure financial inclusion in the country.

Senior government officials, including Prime Minister Abiy, attended the launching event at Friendship Square in Addis Ababa.

Speaking at the launch Prime Minister Abiy commended all relevant stakeholders that enabled the completion of the project in a short period – five months.

With the launching of the “Tele-Birr”, Ethio-Telecom customers can send, store and receive money by just using their telephone number, the Prime Minister said, further adding that “Tele-Birr aims to extend mobile money services solutions to financially excluded sections of Ethiopian society.”.

According to the CEO of Ethio Telecom, the network plans to recruit 21 million users for the service in the first year of operations, rising to 33 million in five years. Around 40-50% of Ethiopia’s annual economic output will be transacted on the platform by the end of the five years, she said.

In a statement on the launch of the new service, Ethio Telecom said it had 1,600 agents with plans to increase to 15,000 within a year.

It added that a number of bodies including existing microfinance institutions and remittance companies were involved in its development.

Ethio Telecom added that the new service was created with “a major focus and greater efforts to provide financial services to low-income citizens and rural people, who do not have access to banking services”.

Telebirr will allow users to send and receive money, deposit or take out cash at appointed agents, pay bills and receive cash sent from abroad.

Latest News

Browse all
Following discussions with the management of Busby Auctioneers and Valuers, an agreement has been reached, today, on the withdrawal of two Ethiopian artefacts that were due to go to auction on 17th June 2021. The Embassy will remain in dialogue with Busby on arrangements for the return of the items to their rightful home in Ethiopia.
16 Jun 2021
Busby withdraws looted Ethiopian artefacts from auction
Ethiopia is dismayed by the “Resolution” of the Executive Council of the League of Arab States on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issued on 15 June 2021 after its meeting held in Doha, Qatar. Ethiopia rejects the “Resolution” in its entirety. In fact, this is not the first time the League of Arab States issued a statement regarding its…
15 Jun 2021
Statement on the Resolution of the League of Arab States on the GERD
Press Briefing by H.E. Sani Redi, State Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Kinfe Hailemariam, Deputy Director General at the National Meteorology Agency, and Billene Seyoum, Press Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, on key highlights of the week and recent developments in agricultural intervention in Tigray ahead of the planting season
15 Jun 2021
Transcript | Prime Minister’s Office Press Briefing – 15 June 2021
Ethiopian Airlines has resumed direct passenger flights between Addis Ababa and London Heathrow effective 12th June 2021. As per UK government guidelines, only British and Irish nationals, and those with residence rights in the UK, will be permitted to travel to the UK from Ethiopia.
14 Jun 2021
Ethiopian Airlines resumes flights to London Heathrow
In a pre-recorded video message, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, said Ethiopia is disappointed by the campaign that is being waged against its handling of the situation in the Tigray region.
12 Jun 2021
Message from Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen to the International Community on the Humanitarian Response in Tigray
The Brief is a bi-weekly publication from the Ethiopian Embassy in London covering current affairs in Ethiopia. Subscribe to our mailing list to receive The Brief in your inbox.
11 Jun 2021
Debunking 5 popular misconceptions of the situation in Ethiopia
Press Briefing by Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health, Mr. Mitiku Kassa, Commissioner for the National Disaster Risk Management Commission, and Billene Seyoum, Press Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, on key highlights of the week and recent developments in Tigray - Full transcript and video
9 Jun 2021
Transcript | Prime Minister’s Press Briefing – 9 June 2021
The Embassy rejects, in the strongest terms, unsubstantiated allegations that starvation is being used “as a weapon of war” in Tigray. The Ethiopian Government takes its responsibility to end the current suffering of the people of Tigray very seriously and has so far made concerted efforts to comprehensively respond to the humanitarian needs on the ground, in coordination with local…
5 Jun 2021
Statement on Allegations of the Use of “Starvation as a Weapon of War” in Tigray
Press Briefing by Dr Gedion Timothewos, Attorney General, and Billene Seyoum, Press Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, on recent developments in Tigray and the upcoming elections - Full Video and Transcript
3 Jun 2021
Transcript | Prime Minister’s Office Press Briefing – 3 June 2021
With new reforms underway in Ethiopia, and with the production of quality and competitive products for export and the domestic market in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector being a key focus area of the nation’s Ten Year Perspective Development Plan, opportunities exist for investment and trade in this sector.
3 Jun 2021
Webinar | Doing Business in Ethiopia: Opportunities for Investment and Export in the Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Industries
Following the official launch of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in April 2011, Ethiopia proposed setting up a tripartite committee and a range of fora, which eventually led to the adoption of the Declaration of Principles on GERD (DoP) in March 2015, signed by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to facilitate the trilateral dialogue. Principally, the DoP underlined the critical…
31 May 2021
Neither politicisation nor sabotage should guide policies over the Nile