Bid for Telecom Licenses Set to Close on Monday

The extended deadline for operators who seek to secure one of two new mobile licenses is set to close on Monday, April 26, 2021 at 10:00 AM, the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) confirmed to The Reporter.

Originally, the closing date was scheduled to end earlier this month [on April 5] before the Authority extended it for three weeks, saying the decision was made based on the request of prospective bidders.

Director General of the ECA, Balcha Reba (Eng.), confirmed to The Reporter that the closing date is set for Monday at 10 AM without the possibility of extending it any longer.

According to Balcha, the bidders and their total number will be identified on Monday.

Asked about the number of bidders and their origins before the deadline, Balcha told The Reporter he could not give any details at present, opting to wait until the closing date.

He also confirmed to The Reporter that his office will give a presser on Monday shortly after the closing, to announce the bidders. In a brief statement issued three weeks ago, the regulator disclosed the revised deadline for bidders to submit pitches to enter the market and compete with ethiotelecom.

It is to be recalled that the Authority first made the announcement during the launch of the process for submission of final applications in November 2020, with the licenses eventually set to be awarded through a competitive bidding process. Terms were available to operators on request until mid-December 2020, with March 5 initially set for completion of tender documents.

Following news the country was set to open-up its telecommunications market, executives from several large operators publicly declared their interest with statements on the scale of the opportunity and their credentials to serve the local population.

In June 2020, the authority announced initial expressions of interest had been received from 12 companies including the MTN Group, Orange, Saudi Telecom Company, Etisalat and Global Partnership for Ethiopia – a consortium comprising Vodafone Group and its affiliates Safaricom and Vodacom. Of the dozen submitted, all but one application was accepted to move to the next phase.

Alongside the issuance of two new licenses, authorities also plan to sell 40 percent of the stake in the state-owned ethiotelecom.

CEO of ethiotelecom, Firehiwot Tamiru, last month told a press conference that her company is already braced for tough competition by maintaining its presence as operator, with a plan of being competent to upcoming new entrants.

A regulation approved recently increased ethiotelecom’s paid-up capital from 40 billion Birr (USD one billion based on current market price) to 400 billion Birr (USD 10 billion), making it the most capitalized state-owned enterprise in Ethiopia. The decision was made just after the company’s asset valuation work was finalized.

source: the reporter Ethiopia

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