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Ethiopian Telecommunication Authority is inviting interested parties to submit Expression of Interest for two Telecommunication service licenses and Ministry of Finance decided to privatize 40% of Ethio Telecom.

It is remembered that Ethiopian goverment decided to partially privatize Ethio Telecom and liberalize the Telecommunication Sector in October 2018.

The much anticipated process of opening up of the the Teleco sector and Ethiopia as country have come along way since then.

Akofada (DFS Ethiopia)

In last 20 months since the official announcement, Ethiopian Communication Authority was established as an independent regulatory body directly reporting to the Prime Minister while previously it was a under Ministry of Innovation and Technology. The Communication Service Proclamation 1148/2019 established the Ethiopian Communications Authority aiming to restructure the Telecom market and introduce a competition to it.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also appointed Balcha Reba as Director General of ECA. Balcha,  who previously was a director of Communication & Information Technology Standardization & Regulation Directorate at Ministry of Innovation & Technology. However Balcha’s careers  spans to the old Ethiopian Telecommunication Agency, the so called Tele Agency.

Last year, the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) organized a public consultation aiming to collect interested stakeholders contributions regarding the proposed regulatory framework and related issues. At the end of consultation,  ECA acknowledged receiving comments from national and international operators, tower companies, equipment manufacturers, internet service providers, social media companies, professional associations, consumer rights groups, ICT experts, and the general public.

ECA also drafted three directives in English which one of it is the ” Telecommunication Licensing directives “. This is the directive that aims to provide a legal frame work for MNOS, VASPs, ISPs and as such. The other directives are “Dispute resolution” and “Consumer right and protection” directives. After this, ECA was expected to publish an Amharic version of this directives and hold a public consultation.

It is in the middle of this that the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) has launched the request for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for two new telecommunications licenses according to a press release published on May 21.

ECA aims to issue two nationwide telecommunications service licenses via “a competitive bidding process in accordance with the Communications Service Proclamation No.1148/2019” . The deadline for the submission of Expression of Interest is June 22,2020.

In related news, the process of Privatization of Ethio Telecom which is being handled by Ministry of Finance, Ethio Telecom, and the Ethiopian Public Enterprises Holdings Agency is progressing as well.

Ministry of Finance has decided to transfer 40 percent of Ethio telecom as part of the  partial privatization. This will make the government a majority share holder. While private buyers will own a minority but significant share.

According to Ethiopian New Agency, State Minister of Finance said “ Some 40 percent of Ethio Telecom shares will be sold as part of partial privatization of the company ” and pointed out that considerable number of shares will go  to the Ethiopian public.

Addis Fortune mentioned that the Ministry is in the process of hiring a transaction advisor that will oversee the partial privatization process.

It is also reported that new operators until they roll out their own network , will share the infrastructure of Ethio Telecom through interconnection.

It is expected that the public and different political actors are going to raise questions as the partial privatization and liberalization is moving to the next step amidest of COVID-19, at the end of current goverment official 5 year term and postponement of August election due to COVID.

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