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We are Prosperity – call us by our name: Abiy Ahmed

Irritated Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) debunked a passing remark by the prominent insurance and finance guru Eyesuswork Zafu during a telecom sector liberalization and ethio telecom privatization discussion when the latter referred to the PM’s party as EPRDF-2. Eyesuswork said that he usually calls the ruling party EPRDF-2 while commenting on the issues of privatizing ethio telecom and liberalizing the telecom market that was unanimously decided by the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) two years ago.

Abiy, who took offence in his party being referred to as EPRDF said that, although he said he is not directly talking about Eyesuswork who said it, some opposition politicians call them EPRDF to discredit them.

“We are not EPRDF,” Abiy said, “Neither are we EPRDF-2. We dismantled EPRDF. We are Prosperity. EPRDF is no more since May. This is not right and you have to call us by our legal name. The opposition camp tries to lessen us by calling us EPRDF when they lack ideas to challenge us. We came out of what they failed to dismantle. Our name is Prosperity, it is Prosperity Party that is leading now, it is Prosperity that will lead until the election, and if Ethiopians decide to give it to others, we will respect that decision. Until then we are called Prosperity and if another winner comes to power, we will return favor by calling them by their name,” he said.

He also lamented that this practice of politics to discredit others in this manner has never helped anyone also adding that understands Eyesuswork does not intend to do so but this opens the way for the opposition who intend to do so.

The discussion held at the Office of the Prime Minister on Monday September 7, 2020, raised various issues and concerns relating to the liberalization of the telecom sector as well as the privatization of 40 percent of the stake in state monopoly ethio telecom. While the government reserves 55 percent of ethio telecom, the remaining five percent will be sold to Ethiopian citizens.

According to Eyob Tekalegh (PhD), State Minister of Finance, preparations have been made to liberalize the telecom market by giving two licenses of operation and to liberalize ethio telecom. Hence, the bid for the two licenses will be floated in September and it will stay afloat for 4 to 50 days. In January or February, the winners will enter an agreement with the government and get their licenses.

Consultants have also been hired by the government to do asset valuation, to advice on transaction matters, spectrum valuation and triangulation of results, he added. The International Financial Corporation (IFC), the lending arm of the World Bank Group, Roland Barger, Ernst and Young, Gong, Coleago Consulting, and Jones Day have all thrown their hats to the ring to take piece of the massive consultancy contract that would be available in connection to the privatization process.

For licensing service providers, the government had called up on interested groups in May 2020 to express their interest and 12 companies did submit their interest.

The regulatory body of the telecom sector, the Ethiopian Communication Authority, has been instituted along with the necessary legal frameworks that govern the sector including a proclamation and 16 directives.

Some attendants raised concerns that the regulating body for the sector is not strong enough and there is lack of expertise to fulfill the demands of the new comers into the market as well as control their activities. Others also said that the government is not providing enough information to both the investors and the public.

Forex reparation issues and infrastructure building by the new entrants was part of the discussions held early this week.