Historic Ethiopia Telecoms deal wins Best Utilities Project at World Bank Partnerships Awards

27 May 2022

A deal involving Ethiopia Telecoms has been awarded Best Utilities Project at the World Bank Partnerships Awards following a successful bid to obtain the first telecommunication licence ever awarded to a private operator in Ethiopia’s history. 

The Consortium was led by Kenya’s Safaricom, the region’s leading telecommunications provider and included Vodafone, Vodacom, BII Plc and Sumitomo Corporation.

Following successfully winning the bid, the consortium has now incorporated its new subsidiary, Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia, which will roll out its new network and deliver digital transformation in line with the government of Ethiopia’s vision.

This will include voice and data connection to support improved digital literacy, customer care, cyber security, entrepreneurship and social inclusion, as well as the use of mobile technology for financial inclusion, health care, education and farming.

The consortium is set to create up to 1.5 million new jobs, upskill the workforce and bring US$8.5bn in investment over 10 years. It has also established a precedent for future private entry into Ethiopia’s telecoms sector and the country, more generally.

Oliver Stacey, partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, the law firm that advised the consortium, said: “It was a huge honour for the project to receive this award and a privilege to be part of this historic digital transformation. Not only was this the first telecommunication licence to be awarded to a private operator and the single biggest foreign direct investment in Ethiopia’s history, it was also the first transaction to be structured and successfully tendered under the country’s evolving telecommunications regulatory framework, overseen by the Ethiopian Communications Authority.”