The process to find a new entrant for Ethiopia’s mobile market was dropped by authorities, Reuters reported, with a representative for the Ministry of Finance blaming insufficient interest.

In a statement to the news publication, the ministry’s senior adviser Hinjat Shamil explained the licensing process had been cancelled after the initial request for qualifications (RFQ) stage.

The comments came after a report in Bloomberg earlier this week claimed no bids had been received and the plan was set to be put on hold.   

Ethiopia’s Communications Authority launched the RFQ in late June, using it to gauge initial interest before a planned formal bidding process.

The deadline was extended in September, with authorities claiming this was at the request of several prospective investors.

Shamil told Reuters by launching the initial process, it wanted to assess market potential and readiness but concluded “market interest didn’t match ours” and so the process was “terminated”.

Ethiopia had intended to issue a third mobile licence to an international player to join incumbent Ethio Telecom and Safaricom, which launched services in 2022.

During its initial tender in 2021, the country rejected a proposal from MTN in favour of restarting the whole process.