Ethiopia Reopen Bids for Second Full-Service Telecom Licence

The Ethiopian Communications Agency is calling for bids for its second full-service telecom operating licence with a view to completing the process early 2022.

In May, the Ethiopian Communications Agency (ECA) sold only one of two full-service telecom licenses on offer, claiming a lower-than-expected price for the second, which it is now offering again. In a press release published recently, the (ECA) is requesting proposals for its second new full-service telecommunications licence in Ethiopia. The licence is due to be issued in January 2022 and proposals must be delivered by 20th December 2020.

The licences are seen as a significant prize in the country’s attempt to liberalize its economy, which had been one of the last major restricted telecoms markets in the world. The first licence was awarded to the consortium Global Partnership for Ethiopia, led by Safaricom and includes Vodafone, Vodacom, Sumitomo, and UK development finance agency CDC Group. The winning bid of US$850 million by Safaricom could serve as a benchmark for the remaining license fee. 

MTN Group of South Africa also submitted a bid in the first round but was unsuccessful in obtaining a license, as MTN’s offer of USD 600 million was deemed too low. According to ECA, the second licence will include mobile financial services and additional spectrum allocation and will have revised pre-qualification criteria to include participation from a wide range of international and national telecommunications operators. 

According to Balcha Reba, Director General of the ECA commented, “The goal of liberalizing our telecoms sector has always been to drive competition and attract greater private sector investment as a key part of Ethiopia’s digital transformation. Following our successful first license issuance earlier this year to one of the world’s largest international telecoms consortia, we have continued with our mission and now want to encourage more telecoms operators of all sizes, to be part of this exciting opportunity. The ECA remains committed to fulfilling Ethiopia’s telecommunications sector reform, and this second license issuance is another opportunity for another telecoms operator to join Ethiopia’s fast-growing economy next year.”

See the RFP Public Notice for more details.

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