The Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) extended the deadline for operators applying to secure one of two new mobile licences, a move apparently requested by prospective bidders.

In a brief statement on its social media channels, the regulator set 5 April as the revised deadline for suitors to submit pitches to enter the market and compete with incumbent Ethio Telecom.

ECA kicked-off the process for submission of final applications in November 2020, with the licences eventually set to be awarded through a competitive bidding process. Terms were available to operators on request until mid-December 2020, with a date of 5 March initially set for completion of tender documents.

Following news the country was set to open-up its telecommunications market, executives from several large operator groups made bullish statements on the scale of the opportunity and their credentials to serve the local population.

In June 2020, the authority announced initial expressions of interest had been received from 12 companies including MTN Group, Orange, Saudi Telecom Company, Etisalat and Global Partnership for Ethiopia: a consortium comprising Vodafone Group and its affiliates Safaricom and Vodacom. Of the dozen submitted, all but one application was accepted to move onto the next phase.

Alongside issuing two new licences, authorities also plan to sell a stake in state-owned Ethio Telecom.