Ethiopian PM awards telecoms licence to Safaricom led consortium

Ethiopian PM awards telecoms licence to Safaricom led consortium

Kenya’s leading telecommunication company Safaricom has been officially awarded a licence to become the first foreign entity to provide such services in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali presented the licence at a ceremony in Addis Ababa, attended by Uhuru Kenyatta, president of Kenya, as well as Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa and Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed said the award of the telecommunications license will catalyse inclusive prosperity. He Tweeted: "In 2018, my administration announced our commitment to liberalize the telecommunication sector and open it up to both domestic and foreign investment - a major policy shift in Ethiopia! Today, we signed a historic agreement with the Global Partnership for Ethiopia."

The international consortium led by Safaricom, comprising of Vodafone and Vodacom, UK’s CDC Group, and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation, had won an U$850 million licence bid to operate in Ethiopia, defeating MTN of Mauritius who bid U$600 million. Safaricom has offered to invest $8 billion in Ethiopia over the coming ten years.

The Global Partnership for Ethiopia, as the consortium is known, was declared the winner on May 22 and Safaricom paid the licence fee last Wednesday, earning permission to provide services across the country.

According to a media report, Safaricom is betting on creating the highest quality network in Ethiopia to beat the competition in its new market.