After months of preparation for the liberalization of Ethiopia’s telecom sector, the Ethiopian Communication Authority has submitted a request for proposals for two telecom licenses. The request is in accordance with Communications Service Proclamation No. 1148/2019.
The purpose of the request, according to a tender notice put out by the ECA, is to “facilitate the liberalization and development of Ethiopia’s telecommunications sector by facilitating the introduction of competition among local and international operators.”
The notice also highlighted the role that current reform is going to have in facilitating access to communication services that will in turn drive economic and social progress in an inclusive and reliable manner. This is especially true for the digital economy which is projected to play a major role in Africa in upcoming years due to the AfCFTA and other rolling reforms across Africa.
The ECA is going to hold a competitive bidding process for the award of the licenses with a focus on quality and reputability. The first stage of the application process saw 12 parties showing interest in gaining a license. Since then, however, some companies have expressed doubt as to the viability of entering Ethiopia’s telecom sector due to restrictive mobile banking and similar regulations.
As part of its liberalization efforts, the ECA has also announced that it intends to sell a 45 percent stake in Ethiotelecom. Of the 45 percent being sold, 5 percent will be exclusively dedicated to Ethiopian nationals while the rest is going to be available to all interested parties.
Parties interested in acquiring the license have until December 10th, 2020 to submit their proposals as per the notice available on the institution’s website and the sale of stakes is expected to be completed in 9 months’ time. The newly licensed operators are going to join the market by April 21, 2021, according to ECA Director-General Balcha Reba.