Safaricom hunts backers for Ethiopia move - Mobile World Live

Safaricom hunts backers for Ethiopia move

18 FEB 2020

Interim Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph (pictured) revealed the company was in talks with a number of potential partners to help fund an entry into the Ethiopian market, Business Daily reported.

In an interview, Joseph said the company aimed to form a consortium of investors to help front the expected high cost of entry, though declined to specify the identities of potential partners.

The executive estimated the cost of the initial licence fee from Ethiopia’s regulators and subsequent network deployment costs at more than KES100 billion ($989.5 million).

In 2019 media in Safaricom’s home market of Kenya suggested a joint bid with its largest private shareholder Vodacom Group was the most likely route to fund a bid, though this now appears to have been extended to a larger pool of potential stakeholders.

The comments come as authorities in Ethiopia prepare to open the market by issuing two new operator licences, alongside selling a stake in the state-owned Ethio Telecom.

With a provisional timeline of Q1 2020, over recent months a number of operators have voiced their intent to bid for a licence assuming the conditions are agreeable.

Among the potential players, executives from Orange and Vodacom have been most vocal in recent months. However when Ethiopia began discussing opening the market, MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter, among others, was also extremely keen on making a move in the country.

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Chris Donkin

Chris joined the Mobile World Live team in November 2016 having previously worked at a number of UK media outlets including Trinity Mirror, The Press Association and UK telecoms publication Mobile News. After spending 10 years in journalism, he moved...

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