Ethiopia’s authorities outlined plans to kick-off the process for the sale of a 40 per cent stake in Ethio Telecom next month and conclude it in early 2021, alongside issuing two new licences, Ethiopian News Agency reported.

Citing comments made by the country’s Ministry of Finance, the news agency said the 40 per cent stake would likely be sold to international investors. A further 5 per cent is set to be offered to Ethiopian nationals at a later date. The state will retain the rest.

It plans to issue an investment prospectus and invitation to bid next month with the process expected to conclude in February 2021, matching the timeline for allocating two highly sought-after new mobile operator licences.

Privatisation of Ethiopia’s telecommunications market has been in the works since 2018 and had been slated for this year, before the process was delayed by issues related to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

The Ethiopian Communications Authority announced it received 12 initial expressions of interest to acquire one of the two new mobile licences. Contenders include MTN, Orange, Saudi Telecom Company, Etisalat and a consortium comprising Vodafone Group and its Africa-focused affiliates.