Ethiopia’s telecommunications regulator said on Tuesday it had invited a request for proposals for a second national telecoms licence, which was due to be issued in January 2022.
The nation of 110 million sold only one of two full-service licences on offer in May, citing a lower-than-expected price for the second one, which it now is offering again.
The licences are considered a big prize in the country’s push to liberalise the economy, which had been one of the world’s last major closed telecoms markets.
“Following our successful first licence issuance earlier this year … we now want to encourage more telecoms operators, of all sizes, to be part of this exciting opportunity,” Balcha Reba, director-general of the Ethiopian Communications Agency (ECA), said in a statement.
A consortium led by Kenya’s top operator Safaricom won the first licence. Safaricom’s winning bid of US$850-million could serve as a guide for the price of the remaining licence.
South Africa’s MTN Group also bid in the first round but it was not awarded a licence. In August, the company said it would not resubmit a bid for a licence in the country.
The second licence will include mobile financial services, ECA said, adding that proposals had to be delivered by 20 December.
State monopoly Ethio Telecom, which launched a new mobile financial service called Telebirr in May, attracted four million users within weeks, showing the market’s potential.
Last month, a senior adviser at the ministry of finance said that World Bank’s private sector arm, International Finance Corporation, will serve as transaction adviser in the deal for the second licence issuance. A separate sale of a 40% stake in Ethio Telecom is also ongoing. — Reported by Ayenat Mersie, (c) 2021 Reuters