Ethiopia opens bidding for two new telecom licenses

ETHIOPIAEthiopia has opened the doors for telecommunications operators wishing to secure two new licenses to submit their technical and financial bids.

The Horn-of-Africa nation’s telecommunication industry is considered the big prize in a push to liberalize the hugely protected market, which serves more than 100 million people.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is pressing ahead with the auction of the new licenses and the sale of a 45% stake in state monopoly Ethio Telecom in spite of a military conflict in the northern Tigray region.

“We have now arrived at a crucial moment,” said Brook Taye, a senior adviser at the finance ministry.

Firms have until 5  2021 to submit their bids, and the winning two will be announced within 14 days, said Eyob Tekalign Tolina, state minister at the ministry of finance.

Winners will be given full operating licenses in Ethiopia, but they will not be allowed to offer mobile phone-based financial services

Winners will be given full operating licenses in Ethiopia, but they will not be allowed to offer mobile phone-based financial services, Eyob said.

They will also be required to set up their own network infrastructure like cellphone towers, Brook added.

Eyob dismissed concerns that the fighting in the north was a worry for investors, saying the federal government troops have encircled local Tigrayan forces around the regional capital of Mekelle.

Telecoms executives have said that prolonged conflict or other instabilities could reduce the appeal of the market and the potential price for the licenses.

Kenya’s telecommunication giant, Safaricom, which expressed interest in a consortium with Vodafone and Vodacom estimated last year it would have to pay about US$1billion for a new license.

Other firms that expressed interest include South Africa’s MTN, UAE’s Etisalat and French operator Orange

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