Consortium awarded Ethiopia’s new telecoms licence
A consortium comprising tech heavyweights Vodafone, Vodacom and Safaricom has been awarded a new telecommunications operating licence in Ethiopia, according to a Bloomberg report.
The publication reports that the move serves to facilitate the opening of the country’s telecommunications industry.
It follows an extensive process that was originally scheduled for 5 March but then moved to 26 April after the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) agreed to an extension.
In a statement, the ECA explained: “Due to requests by bidders to have more time to finalise their offer in light of the COVID-19 market environment, ECA determined their requests to be appropriate and the deadline for the submission of bids for the two new telecom operator licences is extended to April 26, 2021 at 10:00 am East African Time (EAT).”
ECA Director General Balcha Reba was quoted by the local Capital newspaper as saying, “Bidders officially requested to have additional time to finalise their bid proposals. After putting their proposals together, bidding companies need time to discuss with their board of directors, shareholders and financial partners to get final approval on their investment and offer. Considering this, ECA in consultation with concerned entities determined the request to be valid and decided to extend (submission of bids).”
Telkom SA, Etisalat, Saudi Telecom Company, Orange as well as Liquid Telecom all indicated interest in establishing themselves in the Ethiopian market.
Bloomberg reports that the consortium will invest US$8.5-billion into their network over the next ten years.
The publication has also recently quoted Brook Taye, an advisor in the Ministry of Finance, as saying that “some companies dropped out due to concerns about being unable to access Ethiopia’s potentially lucrative mobile phone phone-based financial services under the licence and to set up some of their own key infrastructure.”
The government is expected to raise US$1-billion in revenue from the two 15-year licences.
Ethiopia has a population of over 100 million people making it Africa’s second most populous nation after Nigeria and an appropriate market for mobile and fixed-line services.