The Ethiopian government reportedly halted a process to potentially offload a 45 per cent stake in Ethio Telecom to foreign bidders, as local investors begin to show a bigger appetite, Bloomberg reported.

CEO at Ethiopian Investment Holdings Abdurehman Eid told the outlet there were foreign bidders vying for a stake in the state-owned operator, “but each of them left the process at one point”.

For one, Orange Group pulled out of a potential deal last year, telling Mobile World Live (MWL) “the conditions do not allow for the rapid deployment of our strategy”.

Emirati telecoms giant e& was also reported to be among the interested parties, but no agreement materialised.  

Bloomberg reported Eid had decided it was “probably better to halt the process” of potentially selling the stake to an overseas bidder, opting to offer around 10 per cent to local retail investors, who are showing “a huge appetite” for a holding in Ethio Telecom.

Ethio Telecom, the country’s largest operator, will be listed on the Ethiopian Securities Exchange that is due to launch in October – on track with a plan announced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Said.

The operator booked more than 74 million subscribers as of January and gained $191.6 million profit in the first half of 2024. It was the only telecoms company operating in the East African country until Safaricom entered the market in 2022.

There was work being done by the government to find a third player.