Ethiopia opens telecoms market to foreign investment

7 Jul 2019

On 5th July, State Minister of Finance, Eyob Tekalign Tolina, announced plans to grant two telecom licences to private firms and sell a 49% minority stake in Ethio Telecom – a venture that will see foreign multinationals entering one of Africa’s largest markets.

The companies are expected to enter Ethiopia’s telecom market in early 2020.

Speaking to reporters, the State Minister said, “Ethiopia plans to make Ethio-Telecom a first-class service provider…The government plans to open the sector to competition in addition to partial privatisation, to improve Ethiopia’s digital footprint”.

He said Ethio-Telecom will be divided into two roles: an infrastructure provider and a telecom services provider. The infrastructure division will be tasked with installing optical cable and building mobile phone towers, while the service provider will be responsible for selling mobile phone, internet and fixed-line services.

Prime Minister Abiy announced last year plans to privatise and allow foreign and private investors into key state-owned companies in an effort to attract new players to the economy.

It is estimated Ethio Telecom, Ethiopia’s only mobile and internet provider, has more than 40 million customers. Vodafone, South African operator MTN, France’s Orange and Etisalat of the UAE are likely to be among the leading contenders vying for entry into the Ethiopian market.

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