08 October 2020
Ethiopia has set a new deadline of February 2021 to complete the partial privatisation of its telecom industry.
The government is keen to auction two new mobile-network licenses and sell a minority stake in the state-owned monopoly Ethio Telecom. A plan was set for earlier this year but was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, regulatory complexities and a thwarted attempt to hold national elections.
“We have a February, January timeline for both processes,” said Eyob Tekalign, the state minister of finance. “The reform is fully on track.”
Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed announced plans to liberalise the telecom industry back in 2018, in a bid to bring in much needed foreign exchange and boost the economy, while improving connectivity across the Horn of Africa nation.
Orange is understood to be a strong candidate to win one of the two new licences. South Africa’s MTN and a consortium led by the UK’s Vodafone are also said to be in the running. Both were on a list of companies that submitted expressions of interest released by the government in June this year.
“The Ethiopian authorities have said that 12 directives will be issued that will enable us to put together a business case and an investment case,” a spokeswoman for MTN said in an emailed response to questions. “This is still work in progress and we have not yet made any decision on the opportunity.”