The government of Ethiopia has announced plans to award mobile licences to two new players in the first quarter of 2020, bringing an end to the long-running monopoly of state-owned Ethio Telecom.
Last year, Ethiopian authorities began to reveal new telecoms policies aimed at liberalising the market, and heavyweight operator groups with a strong presence in Africa – including MTN, Orange and Vodacom – were quick to affirm their interest in moving into the market.
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance stated that Ethio Telecom will be separated into two units, with one focused on retail and services while the other will handle Ethiopia’s fixed and mobile telecoms infrastructure, as well as offering wholesale services to the incoming licensees.
In addition to splitting up the state operator, the government has also begun the process of setting up an independent communications regulator to oversee the sector. This body will be in charge of issuing the new licences.
In a statement, the ministry said: “To ensure the success of the partial privatisation process, the government will adopt competitive process that is open and transparent and properly manages the due diligence and bidding process.”
Ethiopia’s government is gearing up for “high tech industrialisation” to close the country’s digital divide and attract major investment to the market. It will be hoping that the increased competition will result in faster, better quality, wider-ranging network coverage.