Ethiopia raises stake of Ethio Telecom up for sale

Thursday February 09 2023
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. PHOTO | FILE | AFP


The Ethiopian government on Thursday said it would sell up to 45 percent of Ethio Telecom, a state-owned monopoly, up from an initial offer of 40 percent.

Ethiopia launched the process for the partial sale of the behemoth carrier in 2021 as part of a push to open up the country's tightly controlled economy. 

The sale ran into headwinds and was postponed last March before the process was re-activated in mid-November, two weeks after the signing of a peace deal to end a two-year war in northern Ethiopia.

"The Government of Ethiopia is proposing a partial privatization... by selling up to 45% of the equity share capital of the Company," the Ministry of Finance said in a public advertisement. 

The government initially launched the process with a view to selling a 40-percent stake, inviting proposals from interested parties.

Read:  Ethiopia invites bids for 40 pc stake in giant Ethio Telecom - The East African


It hoped that opening up Ethio Telecom would make the carrier -- which has 44 million subscribers -- more competitive and efficient.

Ending the state monopoly in the telecoms sector is a key component of an economic reform package that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced after coming to power in 2018.

Read: Safaricom, Ethiopian telco sign network-sharing deal - The East African

In 2021, Ethiopia also issued a tender to award two licences to private telecommunication operators.

One licence was awarded to a consortium led by Kenya's Safaricom, making it the first private telecommunications company to operate in the country of more than 110 million people.

But a bid by South Africa's MTN was deemed too low and turned down.