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All systems go as Ethiopia opens telecoms licence bid

By , Senior news journalist
Ethiopia , 04 Mar 2021

The bid for the long-awaited Ethiopian telecoms operator licence opens tomorrow and interested mobile operators have a month to submit their proposals.

The publication of the bid documents paves the way for the issuance of two licences. as Ethiopia, for the first time, opens its telecoms sector to the private sector.

The Ethiopian Communications Authority last week held a conference with the bidders before floating the final bid. The bidders were briefed on the ICT policy and the digital economy of the country, mobile and financial services and investment laws.

Technical requirements were also part of the briefing, and comments from bidders were gathered for the final request for proposal, according to Ethiopian business newspaper Addis Fortune.

The newspaper reports that the bid will be open for one month until 5 April 2021, and the National Evaluation Committee formed from the Ministry of Finance, the authority and the prime minister's office will handle the technical and financial evaluations, which are expected to be finalised by mid-May.

South African mobile operators have expressed interest in the licence and are among 11 companies vying for it, including Global Partnership for Ethiopia, a consortium with Vodafone, Vodacom and Safaricom; MTN; Etisalat; Orange; Saudi Telecom Company; Liquid Telecom; Telkom SA; and Snail Mobile.

MTN has had a representative office in Ethiopia for a number of years and has had a value-added services licence in the country since 2013.

The Pan-African telco has a footprint in 22 countries across Africa and the Middle East, and Vodacom operates in five African nations.

The Horn of Africa nation has a population of around 100 million people, making it Africa's second-largest nation, after Nigeria, and an appealing market in which to offer mobile and fixed-line services.

The Ethiopian government is expected to raise $1 billion in revenue from the two 15-year licences.

The two international operators will secure nationwide full-service licences with Ethio Telecom, which are subject to renewal, and will enable the companies to provide mobile, Internet and fixed call services.

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