The Safaricom-led company set to become Ethiopia’s first private operator was tipped to have its licence upgraded to include the provision of mobile money services when authorities complete the process of finding a second new entrant.

Citing comments from the director general of the Ethiopian Communications Authority Balcha Reba, newspaper Business Daily noted authorities planned to open bidding to find another new operator later this month.

The new licence will include permission to offer mobile financial services, though the one already awarded to the consortium including Vodafone Group, Vodacom and Safaricom didn’t.

Once the latest process is complete, he added, the winner of the first licence would be given the same privilege.

Ethiopia had planned to issue two licences during its original tender, however it turned down the only other confirmed application from MTN Group, which bid significantly less than its rival.

Speaking in the wake of its failed bid MTN Group CEO Ralph Mupita said its original offer had been adjusted to take into account its inability to offer mobile money services and raised the possibility it may reapply.

However, Bloomberg reported yesterday (5 August) the operator was unlikely to rekindle its interest due to the political situation in the country.