According to local news sources an unnamed French company is set to take over management of Ethiopian state-owned incumbent Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (ETC) having beaten off bids from South African and Indian competition. Having attracted the interest of a number of foreign companies on announcing that it was seeking a partner on a revenue-sharing basis, Capital Ethiopia claims that only three companies made it through to the final stage of the selection process; South Africa’s MTN, state-owned Indian telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and the unnamed French company. While the selection process has been concluded ETC CEO Amare Amsalu is quoted as saying: ‘I am out of the capital [Addis Ababa] and it is difficult to give releases without referring to documents.’ Additionally, it is understood that, while the winning bidders has been picked, further negotiations are still required, providing further reason for the lack of information being released regarding the deal.
What is known is that the firm selected to take over management of the telco will be responsible for introducing new schemes to reform how ETC conducts its core operations, from service provision to infrastructure maintenance. According to previous comments by Diriba Kuma, Transport and Communications Minister, the winning international firm will also be expected to boost ETC’s revenues.
At present ETC is undertaking a large-scale expansion scheme of all its networks and services, with improvements expected to include the rollout of a fibre-optic network. Previously Chinese vendor ZTE had been selected by ETC to assist with the construction of a new national infrastructure in three phases; currently ZTE is working on the third phase which covers expansion to rural and remote regions, and was started in October 2008, and is due for completion in the near future. Commenting on the introduction of the ETC’s new management partner Minister Diriba noted: ‘The transformation process the new company is to lead will kick off as soon as the ongoing expansion with ZTE is completed.’