Ethiopia announced on Monday that it has received two offers for the award of two licences that will put an end to the government’s monopoly on the ankylosed telecommunications sector, one of the last in the world to be closed.
The disruption of this potentially lucrative sector – currently controlled by the state-owned company Ethio Telecom – is one of the cornerstones of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reform agenda. The bids were submitted by South African MTN and a consortium of Kenyan Safaricom, British Vodafone and South African Vodacom, according to a statement from the Ethiopian Communications Authority, the sector regulator. Other companies that had shown interest in the process eventually did not bid, such as the French Orange and the Emirati Etisalat.
Brook Taye, an advisor to the Ministry of Finance, told AFP that he was “very pleased” with the way this process has gone so far.” Our goal has always been quality rather than quantity, we would have loved to have many other participants but in the end everyone has their reasons,’ he added. Some companies may have been discouraged by a Central Bank directive prohibiting foreign companies from offering mobile financial services, or by restrictions on the development of independent infrastructure, he said. Ethiopia is also familiar with internet cuts, especially during periods of social unrest and even national reviews.
The government said that two licences would be awarded, but Mr. Brook said on Monday that there was no guarantee that the two bids submitted would be successful. The authorities will now examine the technical and financial details of the offers, and Mr. Brook anticipates a decision within two weeks. These new licences are expected to bring money, but also jobs and investment. The reforms announced in the telecom sector also include the sale of a share of Ethio Telecom’s capital, with the aim of making the company more efficient.
Source : Africa Radio