Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) have confirmed the award of a new telecom licence to Global Partnership for Ethiopia (GPE), a private consortium comprising Safaricom, Vodafone Group, Vodacom Group, CDC Group and Sumitomo Corporation.
In an official press release regarding the development, ECA Director General, Eng. Balcha Reba, was cited as saying: ‘This decision ushers in a new era of telecom service development in our country which will benefit millions of Ethiopians to have access to quality and reliable communication services. Global Partnership for Ethiopia is a consortium of reputable telecom companies providing service to over 750 million customers all over the world and committed to create new jobs, support the economy through introduction of new and efficient services. I am also very pleased the consortium will invest USD8 billion over the next ten years.’
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month the ECA confirmed the receipt of bids for two nationwide telecoms concessions, one from GPE and the other from South African telecoms giant MTN Group. With the final result of the licence award process having now been announced, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed stated on social media that the decision to award the licence to the consortium over MTN Group had been made after the former ‘offered the highest licensing fee and a very solid investment case’. According to a document published by the Office of the Prime Minister, the cost of the concession to GPE was confirmed as being USD850 million, eclipsing the USD600 million offer submitted by MTN Group – a figure deemed too low to win the second concession that was up for grabs.
It is understood, however, that there are plans to retender the second concession, with the Financial Times citing Brook Taye, senior adviser to the MoF and part of the team overseeing the privatisation, as saying such a development could happen ‘very soon’, albeit only after some policy adjustments are made with a view to making the licence more attractive to would-be bidders.