Ethiopia has one telecommunications company, Ethio Telecom, which is owned by the government. The country intends to open up its Telecom industry by issuing operating licenses to international mobile companies before the end of 2019.
The Ethiopian market is quite attractive due to its large population of approximately 100 million people. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has introduced numerous reforms in the economy aimed at attracting international investors into the country.
Some of the options available for liberalizing the telecoms industry are; a partial sale of the Ethio Telecom or issuing new licenses to foreign mobile service providers. Government officials informed Reuters that they intend to accept bids from the foreign firms in September and issue licenses by December. They expect the winning bidders to begin operating in 2020, at first using the Ethio Telecom’s infrastructure.
“By this time next year, we hope that many Ethiopians will
be using different SIM cards,” said the Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign.
Some of the multinational firms expected to bid for a license are; MTN Group, Vodafone, Orange, and UAE based Etisalat. Top officials from these companies recently met government representatives during a telecoms conference in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia has established a new agency to supervise and issue licenses in the mobile services industry. The Ethiopian Communications Regulatory Authority will provide oversight in the telecoms segment.