Ethiopian authorities revived attempts to attract investment into its communications sector, relaunching separate processes to issue a third mobile licence and sell a 40 per cent stake in incumbent Ethio Telecom.
The Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) opened a consultation which will shape its tender for a new operator, while the country’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoF) announced it was revisiting a plan to sell a minority share in Ethio Telecom.
Ethiopia’s moves come just over a month after Safaricom’s vaunted nationwide launch, which made it the country’s first private mobile operator.
The process which resulted in Safaricom and its backers winning a licence in 2021 had originally been designed to find two new players, however an offer by MTN Group was rejected in favour of retendering.
MTN’s CEO Ralph Mupita subsequently ruled his company out of the reopened bidding process.
Ethiopia’s attempt to find a third provider was put on ice in December 2021, with the ECA citing “concerns and requests from several prospective bidders to delay the process”.
The authority stated interested parties have a month from today [16 November] to submit comments or questions on the tender which will be used to help guide its next steps.
ECA director general Balcha Reba added the move showed “the government and ECA’s firm commitment to introduce competition and create a level-playing field in the sector”.
Meanwhile the MoF invited interested parties in the Ethio Telecom stake to engage with it by 20 December.