The creation of an independent telecoms regulator has been approved by Ethiopia’s parliament as part of the country’s push towards reform in the sector.
Getahun Mekuria, Ethiopian Minster of Innovation and Technology, said that the law’s approval marked a “huge step” towards ending the monopoly currently enjoyed by state-run Ethio Telecom, noting that overseas investors would be permitted to enter the country’s telecoms market.
After taking office last year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed vowed to uphold his pledge of bringing competition to Ethiopia’s telecoms sector. Ethio Telecom is currently the country’s only mobile operator and also holds a monopoly on both fixed and broadband networks.
Two major pan-African operator groups have affirmed their interest in the Ethiopian market, with MTN CEO Rob Shuter saying last month that the operator would be “really excited to participate” in the market as a “major player.” Vodacom is also keen for the market to open up.
According to World Bank statistics from 2017, Ethiopia’s population is higher than 105 million, meaning that within Africa it is second only to Nigeria on this metric. Reuters recently reported that the country’s government aims to issue new operating licences by the end of this year.