New reports claim Ethiopia is planning to sell a 45% stake in Ethio Telecom, the monopoly player at the centre of the country’s ICT liberalisation strategy.
The latest development, reported by Reuters, quoted an adviser to the state minister of finance, who confirmed that the sale is back on the table.
The transaction is expected to take nine months and tenders for two new operating licences will be issued in December, a process in itself expected to take three to four months.
“It is 40% to all interested bidders and 5% will be dedicated to Ethiopians. The 55% will remain with the government of Ethiopia,” Brook Taye, senior adviser at the ministry of finance, told media.
Capacity reported earlier this month that Ethiopia was aiming to meet a February 2021 deadline to introduce competition to the domestic market.
Balcha Reba, director general of the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA), allocated spectrum for the new operators and said they will be named soon.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (pictured), who initiated the liberalisation process, has approved the steps taken so far, according to the Ecofin news agency. The ECA says that each new operator will get 10MHz of capacity in the 900MHz band and a further 20MHz in the 1,800MHz band. Ethio Telecom will get 15MHz in the 900MHz band and 35MHz in the 1,800MHz band, says ECA.
Telecoms is one of the sectors the prime minister is attempting to stimulate through reforms and, back in June, the ECA received expressions of interest from nine telecom and two non-telecom operators. Since then, conflict in the northern region of Tigray has made international headlines, casting doubt on the entire liberalisation process.
Analysing the impact of the escalating conflict, Bloomberg said MTN remained interested in the mobile bids, while Vodacom is monitoring the situation.