The Ethiopian government began the process of liberalizing the national telecom market in 2020. However, Addis Ababa’s plans were slowed down by the local socio-political context marked in particular by the Tigray war.
The Ethiopian government has relaunched the process of privatizing 40% of the incumbent operator Ethio Telecom and that of awarding the country’s second telecoms license (B license). This was indicated by the Ministry of Finance in a press release published on its site on Wednesday, November 16.
According to the press release, a call for interest has been launched for the 40% of Ethio Telecom while a stakeholder consultation process has been launched for the second mobile license. The duration of this process is one month.
The partial privatization of Ethio Telecom and the introduction of a third telecom operator are respectively the second and third stages of the process of liberalizing the Ethiopian telecom market initiated by the government as part of a national economic reform program launched in December 2019. The first stage of liberalization saw the consortium Global Partnership for Ethiopia acquire the country’s first private telecom license.
The partial privatization process of Ethio Telecom started in September 2021, but it was finally postponed last March, in particular due to the national and global economic context. The call for proposals for Ethiopia’s second telecom license started in September 2021, but was suspended in December of the same year.
The resumption of the process of liberalization of the Ethiopian market comes just over a month after the official launch of Safaricom’s activities in Ethiopia and only a few days after the signing of a peace treaty ending the Tigray war which was undermining the country since November 2020. According to Ato Ahmed Shide (pictured, center) Minister of Finance, the resumption of the process follows a careful review of market conditions and the country’s very stable outlook.
Once complete, liberalization should in particular make it possible to accelerate the development of the telecommunications sector by introducing more competition into it. A flourishing telecom sector should not only guarantee quality telecom services to populations, but also contribute to the country’s economic development.