Ethiopia to Reveal Names of Bidders for Telecom Licenses Monday

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia is set to reveal the names of the telecom operators that submitted their final bid for two operating licenses on Monday as the East African country continues to push its effort to liberalize the sector.

The schedule for submitting for technical and financial bid will be over at 10a.m. on Monday after the Ethiopian Communication Authority (ECA) extended its deadline twice at the request of interested companies.

ECA “will announce the number of bids it has received and the names of the bidders at the bid opening ceremony tomorrow starting from 11am”, its officials said on Sunday.

Ethiopia’s telecom industry is considered the big prize in a push to liberalize the economy because of the huge size of the market, which serves more than 105 million people.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is pressing ahead with the auction of the new licenses and the sale of a 45% stake in state monopoly Ethio Telecoms. The strategy has a range of goals: to shore up reserves of much-needed foreign exchange, pay down state debt, improve telecom service and create jobs.

“The winners of the two licenses will be announced after the Authority reviewed the technical and financial evaluations of the submitted bids,” ECA said on Sunday.

The winning firm will be given full operating licenses, but they will not be allowed to offer mobile phone-based financial services.

Three independent teams have calculated the value of two new licenses that would compete with state monopoly Ethio Telecom, officials responsible for the privatization process, said. That has given the government an amount it’s looking to raise from the sale although the figure has not become official.

In 2019, Kenya’s top operator Safaricom, which has expressed an interest in a consortium with Vodafone and Vodacom, estimated it would have to pay about $1 billion for a new license, according to reports.

Other firms that have expressed an interest include South Africa’s MTN, Etisalat from the United Arab Emirates, China’s Sharing Mobile Group and France’s Orange South Africa.