In a bid to allow two new telecom operators join the Ethiopian telecommunications market, the Ethiopian Telecommunications Authority (ECA), together with the Ministry of Finance, have received expression of interests from major telecom companies.
According to a press release the ECA has sent to The Reporter, it has received 12 submissions from potential bidders, out of which nine are telecom operators. ECA has received two more submissions from non-telecom operators and one incomplete submission.
The ECA has confirmed it has received a complete information and expression of interest from the Global Partnership for Ethiopia (a consortium of telecom operators made of Vodafone, Vodacom, and Safaricom), Etisalat, Axian, MTN, Orange, Saudi Telecom Company, Telkom SA, Liquid Telecom, Snail Mobile, and Kandu Global Telecommunications and Electromecha International Projects, as non-telecom operators, have expressed intentions of joining the sector.
Brook Taye (PhD), senior advisor to the Ministry of Finance, who spearheads and facilitates this process, told The Reporter that the request for qualification (RFQ) is going to be finalized and will be approved soon by the board of ECA to arrive at the final stage for official bidding stage. Currently, questionnaires are about to be sent out to the potential bidders and request for qualifications and other essential technical requirements will follow.
Talking about the timeline, Brook said COVID-19 has disrupted original plans which were slated to be finalized in nine months. However, when things proceed as planned, the RFQ and related technical formalities are expected to be finalized so that within five months, major undertakings could be wrapped up.
While the government is working on to bring in two potential operators and more potential companies to join Ethio Telecom, the Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (Ezema) has voiced its concerns against the privatization move.
In a statement, the opposition party, which is chaired by Berhanu Nega (Prof.), has explicitly called on the government and the ruling Prosperity Party (PP), to halt the rush to privatize 40 percent stake of Ethio Telecom to foreign multinationals before proper public dialogue and consolations are made.
Chinese telecom companies that were expressing interests in informal channels, have not submitted there expressions until the deadline on June 22, 2020. China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom are the three giant state-owned telecom operators in the Asia Pacific region.