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Ethiopia confirms entry of two new telecommunications operators

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
Ethiopia , 02 Nov 2020

The Ethiopian Communications Authority has announced that two new international telecommunications operators will enter the local market by April 2021.

Addressing the media on the progress of the country’s telecommunications reforms programme, the Authority’s director-general Balcha Reba said the “official disclosure” of the two ventures and qualified bidders “will begin within November 2020.”

Twelve companies, including the Global Partnership for Ethiopia (a consortium of telecommunications operators made up of Safaricom, Vodacom and Vodafone), along with Etisalat, MTN, Saudi Telecom Company and Liquid Telecom are all reported to have submitted their expression of interest to enter the market.

In addition to being well-qualified and internationally proven operators, Reba said, “financial and technical requirements are crucial alongside other equally important issues like security.”

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

The government said it will also offer a minority stake (40%) in monopoly operator Ethio Telecom, and that the bidding process will be open to foreign companies.

It has also undertaken to make 5% shares in the company available for purchase by Ethiopians.

According to officials, partially privatising Ethio Telecom and allowing two foreign operators to enter the market will improve network quality and speed, and that improved digital infrastructure will also create jobs.

A senior government official recently told ITWeb Africa that the government will expect the winning companies to start operations initially using Ethio Telecom’s infrastructure to run their networks.

Reba added that the reforms programme is focused on boosting digital development, building a global standardised telecom industry, enhancing financial capacity of the sector and increasing accessibility within telecommunications.

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