MTN Group not giving up on Ethiopia licence bid

2 Jun 2021

Despite the disappointment of losing out to Global Partnership for Ethiopia (GPE) in the race to secure a mobile operating licence in Ethiopia, MTN Group CEO Ralph Mupita has revealed the company would still consider bidding for the second licence that the Ethiopian government is looking to retender.

‘We took an approach that the opportunity, as strategic as it was, needed to meet our capital allocation framework and the hurdles that we saw given the licence conditions. We were particularly focused on the lack of mobile money in the licensing regime, and there were some issues around how the telco constructs would be accommodated within Ethiopia. We certainly priced for those things and near-term risks that we saw, and we felt that the financial bid there was appropriate,’ he told shareholders during the company’s 26th annual general meeting (AGM). ‘There are views that the Ethiopian authorities will reissue the licence with mobile money, and if they do that and do that and in a relatively short period of time, we will apply our minds on the issue, we have not made a firm decision on that,’ he went on to add.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) confirmed the award of a new telecom licence to GPE, a private consortium comprising Safaricom, Vodafone Group, Vodacom Group, CDC Group and Sumitomo Corporation. 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. The Safaricom-led consortium plans to invest up to USD8.5 billion in infrastructure as well as create up to one and a half million jobs.