Ethiopia Postpones Telecoms Licensing Process

The Ethiopian government has announced that it will postpone the awarding of two telecoms licences to operators that are interested in entering the country’s market.
Eyob Tekalign Tolina, Ethiopia’s Minister of Finance, said that the process is likely to only kick-off after March 2020 because the initial timeline is probably too aggressive for most of the operators that want to bid.

Orange SA, MTN Group, Safaricom, Econet Global and Etisalat, are reportedly among the contenders.

Tolina said that the operators had asked the government to give them enough time to prepare and compete.
The revised scheduled will be announced within the next two weeks.

Tolina also added that the government would not consider a ‘pure auction’ as a method to allocate the licences.
This would reassure mobile operators who had been concerned that an auction would simply reward the highest bidder and not explore aspects like technical capabilities and international expertise.

The government has not yet published guidelines regarding the bidding process.

Commenting on the announced delay, Andrew Makanya, a telecoms analyst from the Computer Association of Zambia, said that the Ethiopian authorities should take their time in order to adequately scrutinise bidders and avoid the risk of rewarding licences to operators who would then suffer financial challenges - as is the case in Zambia.
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