Orange Group opted to withdraw from a process to acquire a 45 per cent stake in Ethiopia’s state-owned operator Ethio Telecom, blaming existing market conditions which it claims do not match its strategy.

In a statement to Mobile World Live, the France-based operator group explained it would not move forward with a plan to attempt to acquire a 45 per cent stake in the Ethiopian business, ending interest which first began in 2021.

“After analysis, the group believes the conditions do not allow for the rapid deployment of our strategy and the completion of a project that would create value for the company,” it stated.

Orange first submitted an expression of interest to buy the minority stake in Ethio Telecom two years ago, when the country launched a tendering process. The government however postponed the move a year later due to economic conditions, before reviving the plan.

Bloomberg reported in July 2023 both Orange and UAE-operator e& were considering separate bids for a 45 per cent stake. An Orange representative told Mobile World Live at the time there was clear interest in Ethiopia given its presence in Africa, and growth in the continent was an essential part of its strategy.

Ethiopia’s government has made significant moves to open up the market to international players, including awarding the country’s first private mobile network licence to a consortium made up of Vodafone Group, Vodacom and Safaricom in 2021.