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Ethiopia confirms January 2022 date for second telco licence

By , Sub Saharan Africa Business, Tech, News and Development Journalist
Ethiopia , 29 Sep 2021

Ethiopia has announced it will award a second private telecommunications permit in January next year after inviting bids from local and international investors on Tuesday.

Bid applications will close in December 2021, marking the second phase of the privatisation of the East African country’s telecommunications industry.

On Tuesday the Ethiopia Communications Authority (ECA) stated: "The second license will include mobile financial services and additional spectrum allocation and will have revised pre‐qualification criteria to include participation from a wide range of international and national telecommunications operators.”

Eng. Balcha Reba, director general of the ECA explained that “the goal of liberalising our telecoms sector has always been to drive competition and attract greater private sector investment” into industry.

“Following our successful first license issuance earlier this year to one of the world’s largest international telecoms consortia, we have continued with our mission and now want to encourage more telecoms operators, of all sizes, to be part of this exciting opportunity,” said Reba.

The Global Partnership for Ethiopia, a consortium comprising Safaricom, Vodacom and Vodafone, has been awarded the first private telecoms operator license to rival current sole operator and state-run Ethio Telecom.

The Telebirr mobile money platform recently launched by Ethio Telecom has already surpassed four million registered users and is now interconnected to some finance institutions.

On Tuesday, Teferi Melesse Desta, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the UK, held a meeting with officials from Safaricom and the CDC “to discuss Global Partnership for Ethiopia's historic venture into the telecoms industry and their plans to invest in Ethiopia about US$8.5-billion over 10 years”.

This will constitute the largest foreign direct investment into Ethiopia, according to Desta. The partnership has already set up a head office in Addis Ababa.

Aside from the issuing of new telecommunications licences, the country is also busy with the partial privatisation of Ethio Telecom.

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