(Ecofin Agency) - The Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed (pictured) has given the green light for the finalization of the telecom market liberalization process. The decision was made last week at a meeting with the regulator ECA, the Ministry of Finance, Ethio Telecom, the ministerial macroeconomic reform team, and members of the Privatization Advisory Council.
Speaking during this meeting, Balcha Reba, the Head Manager of ECA, said that the new telecom operators, who should be known within a few days, will be allocated a telecom frequency spectrum of 10 MHZ and 20 MHz respectively in the 900 MHZ and 1800 MHZ band, while the incumbent operator will receive 15 MHz and 35 MHz respectively. In the band of 2100 MHz and 2600 MHz, all operators will receive a frequency of 20 MHz.
The new telecom service providers will have to extend their network coverage to 25% within 12 months of entering the market, 40% within 24 months, 55% within 36 months, 70% within 48 months, and 80% within 60 months. Fifteen years after launching their activities, the new operators should cover 97% of the national territory in telecom services.
Telecommunications service providers will be required to provide free services to non-profit entities in the public interest. They will not be allowed to retail mobile phones. The Ethiopian government has set February 2021 as the deadline to complete the opening of the telecom market to competition.