The Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) has today launched the request for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for two new telecoms licenses in Ethiopia.
This is a major development in the liberalisation of Ethiopia’s telecommunications market and follows a recent directive to open up mobile-money services in Ethiopia to mobile operators. Currently, only banks and micro-finance companies are allowed to offer mobile-money services in Ethiopia, and this new development will open up mobile money services to the state-owned telco monopoly Ethio Telecom.
The issuance of the two telecoms licenses in Ethiopia, in addition to the existing license held by Ethio Telecom, is part of the Government Homegrown Economic Reform Agenda to introduce competition into the sector.
The primary goals of the government are to increase access to reliable and efficient communications services for all Ethiopians, leading to improvements in quality of life and in connectivity to support rapid economic transformation, and to maximize the opportunity presented by the digital economy.
The launch of the EOI represents a significant milestone. Since the public consultation held in November 2019, they have undertaken a number of important activities, such as hiring the International Finance Corporation (IFC) as a transaction advisor and drafting numerous directives that will shape a robust legal and regulatory framework.
The sector liberalization process is continuing amid the Covid-19 crisis which shows the government’s strong will to fight the pandemic while keeping track of the ongoing economic reforms. The pandemic has underscored the importance of having reliable and accessible telecommunications to ensure the safety and well-being of Ethiopians and to maintain business continuity. However, the Ethiopian Government has regularly shut down the internet and was accused by the United Nations of hindering the Covid19 fight with internet shutdowns.
The two nationwide telecommunications service licenses will be awarded to two qualified telecommunications companies selected through a competitive bidding process in accordance with the Communications Service Proclamation.
Submissions for the telecoms licenses in Ethiopia are expected from MTN Group Ltd., Vodacom Group Ltd., and Orange SA who have expressed an interest in entering the nation with a population of more than 105 million people. Interested parties have until 12 p.m. East Africa Time (GMT+3), on 22nd June 2020.