ADDIS ABABA – Kenyan operator Safaricom has bid for one of the two telecommunications licences available in Ethiopia, The Standard reported.
Last month, Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) issued requests for expressions of interest for two telecom licences to be awarded to multinational mobile companies, breaking the state monopoly.
Safaricom said it has already submitted an expression of interest, with expectations that the selection of companies to set up operations in Ethiopia would be complete in 2021.
“Safaricom, together with other partners, has expressed interest and we will give an update at some point on the progress,” its CEO Peter Ndegwa told Nairobi-based newspaper.
The Ethiopian telecommunications market has so far been closed by the state but is now being opened up to foreign firms.
The issuing of licences will open up one of the world’s last major closed telecoms markets.
“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 regulator ECA said in a statement.
The regulator says It would be award the licences through a “competitive bidding process,” but did not give a deadline for the allocation of the licences.
Other carriers, including Orange SA and MTN Group Ltd., have expressed interest in expanding in the nation of more than 100 million people, which has a relatively low level of data penetration and internet access.
ECA has already hired the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) as a transaction adviser.