Yesterday, the Ethiopian Communications Authority kicked off their public consultation process prior to issuing new telecommunications licences.
This move signals the move by the regulator to liberalize the Ethiopian telecommunications sector.
This milestone is due to the move by Ethiopia’s government’s decision to proceed with the liberalization of the telecoms sector in October 2018. This is part of their economic reform agenda that the government hopes will usher the next chapter of rapid economic growth.
The Ethiopian Communications authority intends to issue two additional licences for the telecommunications service operators. Currently, the state run Ethio Telecom has the monopoly in the country’s telecommunications sector.
The aim by the Ethiopian Communications Authority to launch a public consultation process is to collect interested stakeholders contributions regarding the proposed regulatory framework and to provide a “transparent and interactive process.” You can access all the details of the Public notice and regulatory orientations it aims to implement at ECA’s website.
This is a huge move for the Ethiopian telecommunications sector and a huge opportunity for telcos. Ethiopia has a population of over 100 million people, double the estimated population of Kenya. Telcos like Safaricom have been reported to have interests in the Ethiopian telecommunications sector where the Kenyan telco is apparently in talks to launch MPESA in the country. It won’t be a surprise if the likes of MTN or Airtel who are big players in the African continent, are also gunning to get those licences to operate in the Ethiopian telecommunications sector.
Breaking Ethio Telecom’s monopoly in Ethiopia will be very good for the consumers. Recently, it was reported that Ethio Telecom has over 44 million subscribers which is a huge number by any measure. However, if you compare that with Kenya where we have 52.1 million subscribers that is almost or close to the entire population of Kenya, Ethiopia’s penetration is pretty low.