Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has directed his macroeconomic reform team and members of the Privatisation Advisory Council to press ahead with both the liberalisation of the telecoms market via the issuance of two new service provider concessions, and the sale of a 40% stake in incumbent Ethio Telecom. According to local news source The Reporter, the direction was made at a meeting held last week (26 October), at which reports were presented by the Ethiopian Telecommunications Authority (ECA), the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and Ethio Telecom.
Of particular note, the ECA was said to have detailed in its presentation the plans for what spectrum is to be allocated to new licensees, with it confirming its intention to assign frequencies across five bands to both new players. It is understood that the two new players will each be awarded 10MHz blocks in the 800MHz and 900MHz bands, as well as 20MHz in the 1800MHz band. By comparison, Ethio Telecom will reportedly hold a 10MHz block in the 800MHz band, while the incumbent will retain 15MHz and 35MHz in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands, respectively. Meanwhile, all three operators – Ethio Telecom and the two new licensees – will reportedly be allocated 20MHz apiece in the 2100MHz band and further 20MHz block in the 2600MHz band.
Meanwhile, information was also forthcoming regarding coverage requirements, with it reported that the two new operators will be tasked with reaching 25% population coverage within a year of entering the country’s telecoms sector. Looking further ahead, the duo will be expected to cover 40% of Ethiopians within two years, 55% in three years, 70% in four years and 80% in five years, with an ultimate coverage target of 97% set for 15 years after their respective launches.