MTN and Vodafone shortlisted for licenses in Ethiopia

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MTN Group and a consortium including Vodafone Group, Vodacom and Safaricom of Kenya, have reportedly put in a bid for licenses to enter the Ethiopian telecoms market.

Ethiopia’s finance ministry confirmed this in a statement, saying that at the close of auction on Monday, only three bids were left standing – MTN, the Vodafone consortium and partners CDC Group and Sumitomo Corporation.

The statement released on social media, said the finance ministry was “delighted to have received the bids for the nationwide telecom service licenses from two giant telecom operators”.

Yesterday, the country’s communications regulator indicated license awards would be announced after the completion of technical and financial evaluations of documents submitted to authorities.

Meanwhile, the auction delayed and trigger contestation from some 12 parties, which submitted initial expressions of interest. The 12 included MTN, the Vodafone consortium, Orange, Etisalat and Saudi Telecom Company.

But the Ethiopian government explained it had to shift the deadline for the submission of bids twice because of Covid-19.

Reports says Ethiopia has for the past two years been working on opening up the country’s communications market, with authorities repeatedly outlining their intent to attract international operator groups to compete with incumbent Ethio Telecom.

GSMA Intelligence estimated the country had 50.1 million mobile connections in the first quarter of 2021.

Meanwhile, as of 2019, the United Nations placed the country’s population at around 112 million.

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