Ethiopia to issue two telecom licences

25 May 2020

Following Prime Minister Abiy’s announcement of plans to liberalise the economy and allow foreign and private investors into key state-owned companies, the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) is proceeding with plans to privatise the telecoms sector, after delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The issuance of the two new licences, in addition to the existing licence held by Ethio Telecom, is part of the Government’s Homegrown Economic Reform Agenda to introduce competition into the sector,” the regulator said in a statement. “The liberalisation process is continuing amid the COVID-19 crisis, which shows the government’s strong will to fight the pandemic while keeping track of the ongoing economic reforms,” it added.

ECA is inviting bidders to submit their interest for the acquisition of two telecom licences, by 22nd June. According to the ECA, by awarding these licences, the primary goal of the government is to ensure reliable and accessible communications for all Ethiopians.

The licences will be awarded through a “competitive bidding process”. Successful companies will be able to build, own and operate a nationwide telecoms network, including an international gateway.

Ethiopia’s telecoms industry is considered a big prize. Several international telecom operators have already expressed interest, including Kenya’s Safaricom, France’s Orange, South Africa’s MTN and Zimbabwe’s Econet Global.

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