Safaricom-led Consortium wins Ethiopian Operating License

ADDIS ABABA – The Council of Ministers unanimously vote to allow Ethiopian Communications Authority to grant a new nationwide telecom license to the Global Partnership for Ethiopia.

The decision has put a final stamp on government’s move to issue telecommunications license to the Global Partnership which has offered the highest licensing fee and a very solid investment case in the sector.

The winning consortium is consisting of Vodafone of UK, Safaricom of Kenya, Vodacom of South Africa, Sumitomo Corporation of Japan, UK’s development finance institution or CDC Group and U.S.’s International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).

“With over $8 billion total investment, this will be the single largest FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) into Ethiopia to date,” the Prime Minister announced in a twitter post.

The process marks a new milestone in Ethiopia’s Telecommunications service provision, by opening the sector for competition.

“Our desire to take Ethiopia fully digital is on track. I would like to thank all that have taken part in this and for pulling off a very transparent and effective process,” he added.

Sector regulator ECA has congratulated Global Partnership for Ethiopia for being selected as a winner of a new telecom service provider.

The authority also said “this marks the beginning of a new era in our country and the government’s commitment for a quality communication service to citizens and businesses.”

The Authority said the selection of one winner completes a transparent process. The process began in October 2020 to open Ethiopia’s telecom market to operators beyond Ethio Telecom, the publicly owned national telecom company.

At the end of April 2021, the Authority announced that two consortia had submitted proposals: a consortium of four companies and the South African telecommunications giant MTN Group Limited, supported by the Silk Road Fund, a Chinese investment fund.

On Saturday, Council of Ministers has approved the ECA’s proposed winner during their regular meeting. Subsequent to the announcement of the decision by Council, Director General of ECA, Balcha Reba, said the decision ushers in a new era of telecom service development Ethiopia.

It “will benefit millions of Ethiopians to have access to quality and reliable communication services,” he added.

Global Partnership for Ethiopia is a consortium of reputable telecom companies providing service to over 750 million customers all over the world.

Balcha said they committed to create new jobs, support the economy through introduction of new and efficient services in Ethiopia.

“I am also very pleased the consortium will invest 8 billion USD over the next 10 years,” he added.

The entry of a new operator signals the government’s commitment to the reform agenda introduced two years ago as part of the Homegrown Economic Reform Program.