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Orange plans to tap into Ethiopia’s telecom sector

Orange SA, a French-based multinational telecom company, is planning to invest in the Ethiopian telecom sector, The Reporter has learnt.

This was disclosed in a meeting held between Teshome Toga, Minister of Public Enterprises and representatives of the company. During the meeting, the company showed its interest to involve in the process of the privatization of the sector.

In addition, the delegates also said that Orange is interested to invest in the whole telecom sector. They also expressed their interest of expanding and modernizing the mobile service of the country, read the statement issued by the Ministry.

Orange SA, formerly known as France Telecom SA, currently has more than 256 million customers worldwide. In 2015 alone, the Company has collected GBP 40 billion revenue from its activities.

It mainly involved in a range of telecom sector activities including: providing mobile, landline, internet, IPTV services.

Orange is not the only company which showed interest to be part of Ethiopia’s telecom sector. Companies such as MTN and VODACOM – major telecom players in Africa – have openly expressed their interest to invest in Ethiopia.

 “Ethiopia presents many existing telecommunication opportunities and we look forward to further discussions with Ethiopian officials on potential partnerships and opportunities,” Karen Byamugisha, external communication specialists from MTN Group told The Reporter back in June, 2018.

He also disclosed that MTN had already renewed its license to provide value added services in Ethiopia and will continue to maintain an office in Addis Ababa. Headquartered in Johannesburg, MTN operate across Africa, Europe and Asia. Its total asset is estimated to be above USD 14 billion.

This move came in June following a decision by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) Executive committee. Back then, the Front has decided to privatize some of the major Enterprises also known as commanding heights.

State-owned enterprise such as Ethiopian Airlines, Ethio Telecom, Railway Corporation, Ethiopian Electric Power and a number of Sugar Plants are to be partially privatized with the majority stakes still remaining under government’s ownership.

This decision from the core of EPRDF, created a debate where many disagree with it. In fact, some have downplayed the move to privatize Ethiopian as careless.

In a recent interview with The Reporter, Bereket Simon, veteran of EPRDF has expressed its disagreement with the privatization of the aforementioned enterprises.

“The fact that by selling Ethio-telecom, Ethiopian Electric Power or the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to foreigners might give a short-term solution but in the long-term we would be in a deep trouble,” he said.

This is not a solution to our problem. It is an out-dated economic silver bullet. We shall not transfer those institutions to someone else.