Ethiopia: No shortlist yet for telecoms bidding for licences

Monday February 22 2021

An Ethio telecom billboard advertisement on a building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The country’s telecoms industry is considered a lucrative market due to its more than 100 million people market. PHOTO | AFP


Ethiopian Communication Authority (ECA) is currently receiving proposals from global telcos interested in operating in the Ethiopian telecommunication industry currently under the stronghold of Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (Ethio Telecom).

The regulator said through its Twitter handle that the request for proposals (RFP) process, which started in November 27, 2020 is still ongoing, and the proposal submission deadline is April 5, this year.

“We wish to clarify that to date no bidder has been shortlisted, and none excluded or disqualified from responding to the RFP. There is no shortlist. It is an open competitive bidding process,” said an ECA statement.

Breaking monopoly

The ECA has opened up the Ethiopian telecom market to competition by awarding two full-service licences to multinational mobile phone operators to break the monopoly enjoyed by the state-owned telco.

Liberalisation of Ethiopia’s telecoms sector is part of the government’s 2019 Home Grown Economic Reform Agenda which underscores the role of the private sector in driving sustained growth and creating jobs.


According to the authority the latest step in the liberalisation process was the RFP launch on November 27, 2020 after 12 firms had made Expressions of Interest (EoIs) on the country’s two new telecoms licences, in June 2020.

These firms included a consortium consisting Kenya’s Safaricom, Vodafone and Vodacom branded as Global Partnership for Ethiopia.

Hitch-up conditions

Others are Madagascar’s Axian, South Africa’s MTN Group and Telkom SA, France’s Orange Group, Saudi Arabia’s stc, the United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat, Pan-African group Liquid Telecom and the Chinese mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Snail Mobile.

The licences are expected to generate around $1 billion in revenue and will have an initial validity of 15 years, with options for renewal.

The beneficiaries of the licences will be required to commit to reasonable pricing structures as well as meeting agreed coverage quotas for geographies, population, universal access and tele-density.

Safaricom, has reportedly signed an agreement to borrow up to $500 million from America’s sovereign wealth fund United States International Development Finance Corporation to fund the Ethiopia expansion.

Chairman Michael Joseph, however declined to comment on the matter.

“I am unable to comment,” Mr Joseph told The EastAfrican.

Ethiopia’s telecoms industry is considered a lucrative market due to its more than 100 million people market.

The country is pushing on with the sale of the two licences and sale of a 45 percent stake in state monopoly Ethio Telecoms.