ADDIS ABABA – Orange, France’s largest telecoms firm, remains interested in investing in the Ethiopian telecom market.
This was disclosed during a meeting between State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign and CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa Jerome Henique on Thursday.
“The parties discussed the investment opportunities in the telecom sector and how to work together,” the finance ministry announced in a statement after the meeting.
The French Telco previously had registered its interest to buy a 40% stake in state-owned Ethio Telecom.
But the government decided to halt the tendering process “due to adverse internal and global development” after talks with interested parties.
The Government reinstated the tendering process in November, inviting international telecom operators to express their interest in the partial privatization of Ethio Telecom.
In his meeting with Jerome Henique today, State Minister Eyob reiterated the Government’s commitment to attract investors in the telecom sector and its importance to the national digital transformation and inclusive growth agenda.
He also updated the CEO on the telecom sector reforms in the past two years including the entrance of Safaricom Ethiopia, the transformation of Ethio-telecom, the robust regulatory environment, and the improvements in the investment climate.
Henrique, who shared Orange’s successful track record of investments in the African telecom market, reiterated Orange’s interest in the Ethiopian market, MoF’s statement reads.
“The parties agreed to continue with technical discussions to realize the telecom sector investment opportunities,” the statement says.
Apart from Ethio Telecom’s partial privatization bid, authorities have also launched a tendering process to issue a third telecom license. This comes two years after the government awarded the second operating license to a consortium led by Kenya’s Safaricom, Vodafone, and Japan’s Sumitomo.
The group paid $850 million for the license and their company, Safaricom Telecommunication Ethiopia plc, is now competing with Ethio Telecom after launching its national operation in Sept 2022.
Ethio Telecom secured 33.8 billion Birr in revenue in the first half of the current 2022/23 fiscal year alone, and has more than 70 million subscribers, covering more than half the population.