Still looking for growth in Africa, the Orange Group has reaffirmed its interest in Ethiopia’s telecoms market, which is widely considered to be the last major market in the world to open up.
The call for expression of interest (EOI) issued by the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) at the end of May elapsed on Tuesday 22 June 2020.
“The Group formally expressed its interest yesterday in response to the ‘call for expression of interest’ for the allocation of two national telecommunications service licenses,” reads a statement issued by an Orange spokesperson.
Though it didn’t specify if it is forming a partnership to make its bid or go it alone, Orange is joining the likes of the Vodafone Group, which is reportedly teaming up with its South African unit Vodacom Group and Kenya-based affiliate Safaricom as a consortium, to bid for a licence.
Reports also say that Africa’s largest telco by subscribers, MTN Group, is also interested in the bid too.
Ethiopia is one of the last three countries in Africa (besides Djibouti and Eritrea) to maintain a monopoly in providing telecom services. Its Ethio Telecom is the only telco in the country.
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The country is planning to sell stake in the national carrier as well as searching for two top-class telecom operators to bring in expertise and experience to provide modern and affordable telecom services to an estimated 100.8-million population.
The issuance of the two new licenses, in addition to the partial privatisation of the state-owned Ethio Telecom, is part of the Government’s Economic Reform Agenda aiming “to open up the economy to more foreign investment, introduce greater competition into the telecoms sector, and to bring higher quality services to the people of Ethiopia,” the ECA’s EOI background information states.
Market insiders say the two 15-year licences to provide services across Ethiopia could see the East African country raise over US$1B in revenue.
The establishment and expansion of industries are crucial to support the country’s growing working population – with the 15-64 age group expected to grow to 60% of the entire population by 2025, up from 54% in 2015.
The Orange Group says it plans to replicate its success in Europe and Africa/Middle East in Ethiopia and is already working to design its “best proposal for the country and its people; one that will create value for all stakeholders and thus ensure the success of this reform in the long term.”
The Ethiopian telecom regulator did not indicate in the EOI if the government will authorise telecom players to provide mobile financial service as is the case everywhere else in Africa.