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Lukewarm response to Ethiopia’s available telco licences

By , Sub Saharan Africa Business, Tech, News and Development Journalist
Ethiopia , 18 Feb 2021

No bids have been received yet for two new available telecommunications licences in Ethiopia, the Ethiopia Communications Authority (ECA) said on Wednesday.

Ethiopia is seeking to liberalise its telecommunications industry by opening it up to international investors.

A handful of regional and international operators, including Vodacom, under a consortium with Vodafone and Safaricom, as well MTN, Orange and Etisalat have reportedly expressed interest in entering the country’s market.

However, the Authority said yesterday that with one and a half months before the deadline for submission , no bids have been received from the prospective operators yet.

“We wish to clarify that to date no proposals have been received for the two new telecom licenses, and no prospective bidder has been shortlisted, prequalified nor excluded from participating in the bid process,” the Authority said.

Earlier this month, the ECA extended the date for bid submissions to 5 April 2021 after receiving requests from bidders.

Ahmed Abdulkerim, a board member for civic organisation Truth Ethiopia, said: “Surprised! I thought people will be falling over themselves in a rush to grab a piece of this hot cake.”

Local industry insiders believe some prospective bidders had been frustrated by reports that certain companies have already been shortlisted for the two new private mobile operator licences.

However, the ECA refuted this and posted a message on Twitter: “This is to clarify misinformation that states there are companies shortlisted for the award process.”

In December, US development funder, the Development Finance Corporation said it would make US$500-million available to support the Consortium (including Vodafone, Vodacom and Safaricom) and “finance the design, development, and operation of a new private mobile network provider”.

The funds would also be used for “the acquisition of a mobile network provider” license in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is looking to attract new investment into the publicly held telecommunications operator Ethio telecom.

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