Kenya’s Safaricom, one of the largest telco’s in the region has made a formal bid to get a licence to operate in Ethiopia — one of the world’s last major closed telecoms markets, the company announced on Monday. In communication to shareholders, the telco said it is submitting its proposal through a consortium it is leading with its parent firms Vodafone and Vodacom, British development finance agency CDC Group and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation.
The Ethiopian government is expected to assess the bids within a one-month window and announce the successful firms by May. The request for proposal for the two new licences was launched on November 27 last year and some 12 firms including Safaricom expressed interest.
“The ECA has indicated that proposals from interested bidders must be submitted by 26th April 2021, and the successful bidders will be announced within thirty (30) days (subject to timings subsequently advised by the ECA,” said Safaricom on Monday.
“We will select the winners after technical and financial evaluation is completed,” Balcha Reba, director general of the Ethiopian Communications Authority, said at a news conference also on Monday. The Ethiopian government may award one or two licences and has the right to cancel the bidding process, he added.
The licences will pave the way to open up Ethiopia’s telecoms industry, which is considered the big prize in the country’s push to liberalise the economy. The liberalisation will also involve the sale of a 45% stake in Ethio Telecom, which has said it also plans to launch mobile money transfer services.