News: Government set to award second telecom license by end of 2023

Balcha Reba, director general of the Ethiopian Communication Authority (Photo: ENA)

Addis Abeba – Ethiopian authorities have confirmed their plans to award the highly anticipated second telecommunications license before the end of 2023. Balcha Reba, the Director General of the Ethiopian Communication Authority (ECA), revealed that all necessary preparations had been made. Balcha Reba, the Director General of the Ethiopian Communication Authority (ECA), has confirmed that all necessary preparations for the issuance of the second license tender process have been completed.

On 30June, 2023, the authority issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) with a submission deadline set for 15September, 2023. Balcha revealed that once the authority has received the submissions from the bidders, it will proceed to the second phase of the licensing process, which is the request for proposal. The Director General told Ethiopian News Agency that this process may take approximately two to three months, leading to the potential issuance of the third license in either November or December.

The renowned French telecommunications giant Orange has expressed interest in bidding for a minority stake in the Ethiopian telecom market. In June 2023, Alioune Ndiaye, Orange’s Africa CEO, visited Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Abeba, for discussions with government officials. Alongside Orange, E&, UAE’s largest telecom operator, is also considering a bid for a 45% stake in Ethio Telecom. The government reinstated the tendering process in November, inviting international telecom operators to demonstrate their interest in the partial privatization of the state-owned Ethio Telecom.

Safaricom Ethiopia emerged as the winner of one of the two licenses made available to private telecommunication operators in May 2021, offering $850 million and committing to invest $8.5 billion over ten years. Safaricom Ethiopia also became the second operator to offer mobile money services after receiving a license in May 2023.

However, Ethio Telecom continues to dominate the telecom sector. Just a month ago, the state-owned provider announced impressive financials, generating a total revenue of 75.8 billion birr during the 2015 Ethiopian fiscal year, surpassing its target by 101%. AS

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