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France’s Telecom Firm Orange ‘Submits interest for stake in Ethio Telecom’

ADDIS ABABA – Orange, France’s largest telecoms firm, has submitted an expression of interest to partake in the ongoing partial privatization of the state-owned Ethio Telecom firm, confirmed Ethiopia’s top envoy in France on Tuesday.

In a brief statement on his Facebook page, Ambassador Henok Teferra said Orange “has formally submitted interest to participate in the partial privatization of Ethio Telecom,” after he held “Fruitful discussions with team” the company in Paris.

Last month, Ethiopia announced the beginning of the tendering process to sell 40% stake in Ethio Telecom to a single investor. The government will retain 55% of the company, while 5% will be offered to local investors.

Officials expect the tender to attract the interest of global telecom firms. Ambassador Henok said Ethiopia, with a fast growing economy and over 100 million people, “remains very attractive to foreign investors”.

The move to partially sell-off the Ethio Telecom is a part of the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration’s plan to open up Ethiopia’s economy.

The government has already signed a telecommunications license to a Safaricom Plc-led consortium after the group, which includes Vodafone, Vodacom, Safaricom, Sumitomo Corporation, and the CDC Group, won the bid offering $850 million, in May, 2021.

Ethio Telecom generated 56.5 billion birr (approx. $1.29 billion) revenue in the recently concluded the 2020/21 Ethiopian fiscal year and has 56.2 million subscribers, covering about half the population.