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Safaricom readies to help push consortium agenda in Ethiopia

Safaricom has been granted a license to operate in Ethiopia after a successful bid through the Global Partnership for Ethiopia consortium.

In addition to Safaricom, the consortium is comprised of Vodacom Group; Vodafone Group; Sumitomo Corporation – an established international trading and business investment company; and CDC Group - the UK’s development finance institution and impact investor.

The consortium will follow a mandate to establish a new operating company in Ethiopia and provide telecommunication services from 2022.

Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom, said, “We are excited for the opportunity to work with the people of Ethiopia to set up telecom networks to deliver a digital lifestyle. In past years, we have seen the power of digital transformation and its impact on our customers. We believe by working with all stakeholders in Ethiopia, we can deliver a similar transformation while achieving a sustainable return to our shareholders.”

The Ethiopian telecommunications industry was considered a monopoly serving a population of 112 million people. Safaricom had been identified as one of several foreign ventures looking to enter the market ever since Abiy Ahmed took up the Prime Minister post. His regime change promised to open up the Ethiopian market to competition, including within the telecommunications space.

The government leveraged support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to begin this process.

The bidding process officially closed a the end of April 2021 and according to regional media, the consortium offered US$850-million for the licence.

Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone Group, said: “This is a significant development for Ethiopia, which is one of the last very large markets in the world to introduce telecom competition. We want to play a transformational role in ensuring Ethiopia’s huge economic and developmental potential is realised through the deployment of next-generation connectivity and digital services, creating an inclusive and sustainable digital society.” 

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