Ethiopia Eyes Third Telco Launch as Ethio Telecom Announces Plans for Partial Privatization

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Ethio Telecom CEO Frehiwot Tamiru addresses delegates at the launch of the company's mobile money service Telebirr in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia May 11, 2021. Credit, Reuters

The telco market in Ethiopia has been receiving a lot of interest in the recent past. With a population of over 120 million, the country was in dire need of competition in the carrier market that was mostly led by state-owned Ethio Telecom.

A consortium of companies, under the Safaricom Ethiopia brand name, bid for a telco license.

This was approved, and Safaricom set up its business in the country.

As of this week, it has registered more than 1 million customers and plans to add more in the coming days as it eyes to offer its products and services in 25 Ethiopian cities by April 2023.

Now, it appears that Ethio Telecom is open to privatization following a development that the carrier has plans to sell a stake of 40 percent. It has revealed that international companies are open to submit their expression of interest.

At the same time, and at the time of this reveal by Ethiopia’s Minister for Fiance Ahmed Shide, Ethiopia is also open to international companies submitting their bid for a license.

This means that a third telco could be launched in the country in the near future.

Ethio Telecom has been the sole telco in Ethiopia for an extended period.

It has since launched 5G services, albeit in a test phase, and a plan to inject some private investment into the company means it is ready to loosen up its stand to incorporate more ideas and developments from some form of private ownership.

This move had also been announced earlier, but the government of Ethiopia said it had paused the partial privatization of Ethio Telecoms due to economic hardships.

Audit firm Deloitte will be advising Ethio Telecoms about this transaction.

Interested companies also have up to December 20, 2022, to submit their bids.

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Kenn Abuya is a friend of technology, with bias in enterprise and mobile tech. Share your thoughts, tips and hate mail at [email protected]