Ethiopia will not permit foreign infrastructure companies to enter the market

11 Aug 2020

With Ethio Telecom having argued against foreign infrastructure companies being allowed to enter the country and build new infrastructure that could be leased to any new operators that are licensed, it looks set to get its way. According to The East African, attempts by the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) to bring in foreign telecom infrastructure firms were said to have angered the incumbent, whose executives had argued that it had spent billions of dollars on infrastructure across the country in recent years and should be able to profit from leasing towers to any new operators that are licensed.

According to the report, the Ethiopian government has now decided to suspend the entry of foreign infrastructure companies after Ethio Telecom’s management filed a complaint letter seeking state intervention in the matter. Commenting on the development, Ethio Telecom’s chief executive Frehiwot Tamiru said: ‘The government has decided not to allow foreign telecom infrastructure companies. They will not be allowed to operate here … We have built sufficient telecom infrastructures like fibre cables and mobile base masts that we can rent it to the newly entering companies. So, the incoming telecom operators will either use our existing infrastructure by renting or build their own.’

Meanwhile, Ethio Telecom was also said to have written a letter to the ECA expressing concerns over the ongoing privatisation process of the incumbent, though it is still awaiting a response. ‘We do not believe that the authority will take any action that could jeopardise Ethio Telecom’s existence,’ said Ms Frehiwot of the matter of privatisation, adding: ‘But there are still some issues that we have not agreed on.’