Safaricom is currently in talks with a number of possible backers to help it push into the newly-liberalised Ethiopian market.
Speaking to the Business Daily newspaper, Safaricom’s interim CEO Michael Joseph said that the operator anticipated the Ethiopian licence fee and initial network deployment expenditure to exceed KES100 billion ($989.5 million).
Last year, Kenyan media speculated that Safaricom could seek to enter the Ethiopian market by lodging a bid together with its largest private shareholder Vodacom Group. It now seems that the operator is now looking to form a wider consortium of backers, although Joseph did not identify any of the parties with which Safaricom is holding talks.
After years of Ethio Telecom holding an effective monopoly, the country’s government is now selling a stake in the operator and making two new operating licences available for bids – possibly as early as Q1 2020.
Several international groups have expressed interest in entering the Ethiopian market subject to the licence terms. When Ethiopia’s government first announced that it would open up the market, MTN Group stated that it would be eager to acquire a licence, while more recently Orange and Vodacom have made their intentions clear.