(Ecofin Agency) - The Ethiopian government has set February 2021 as the new deadline for completing the opening of the telecom market to competition through the partial privatization of the incumbent operator Ethio Telecom and the award of two new telecom licenses. Eyob Tekalign, the Minister of Finance, said that the state has a timetable, from January to February, for both processes. He stressed that the reform initiated since 2018 by the government is “on the right track”.
The telecom reform aims to bring much-needed foreign exchange and stimulate the economy while improving connectivity across the country. It was scheduled for this year but has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, regulatory complexities, and a thwarted attempt to hold national elections.
As of July, the Ministry of Finance and the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) already had 11 companies bidding to enter the national telecom market: Global Partnership for Ethiopia (a consortium of telecom operators consisting of Vodafone, Vodacom and Safaricom), Etisalat, Axian, MTN, Orange, Saudi Telecom Company, Telkom SA, Liquid Telecom, Snail Mobile, Kandu Global Telecommunications and Electromecha International Projects.
As a reminder, there was a rumor that the regulatory authority had suspended the telecom privatization process but the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, tweeted a denial on September 7.