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HomeMisc NewsTech NewsEthiopia launches tender to increase numbers of telecom operators

Ethiopia launches tender to increase numbers of telecom operators

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Ethiopia has launched a tender for a second new telecommunications license, its communications authority said on Friday, opening up one of Africa’s largest markets to further competition.

Ethiopia’s telecoms industry is considered a big prize in Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s push to liberalise the economy after he took over in 2018, thanks to a large population of about 120 million.

Kenya’s Safaricom launched its mobile network in Ethiopia in October last year, becoming the first private operator alongside state-owned Ethio Telecom which had hitherto enjoyed a monopoly.

“There are several positive developments occurring in the Ethiopian telecommunications sector since the beginning of the liberalization process,” the Ethiopian Communications Authority said in a request for qualifications (RFQ) notice.

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In May, the country announced its plans to launch a tender for a second international telecoms license in June to expand the sector in the country.

According to the country’s regulator, the tender will provide the country with a third mobile operator, along with state-owned Ethio Telecom and Safaricom Ethiopia, which is a subsidiary of Kenyan operator Safaricom.

“We have planned to launch the tender in June. More details will be released when we approach the launch date,” Balcha Reba, director general of the Ethiopian Communication Authority, told Reuters.

Safaricom only launched its services in the country in October, gaining over a million customers within a month of launching. It’s not known what the current figure for Safaricom sits at, but it is a number that is dwarfed by Ethio, which has over 70 million subscribers.

Although state-owned, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is also open to attracting investment in Ethio, and restarted efforts to sell up to 45 percent of the operator last year.

Ahmed is attempting to open up the country’s economy and has identified its mobile industry as a key component of this, with Ethiopia’s sizeable population of over 120 million providing it with the potential to be one of the biggest mobile markets in Africa.

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