Ethiopia Launches Request for EOI to Issue New Telecommunications Licenses

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Finance State Minister Eyob Tekalign announcing the Expression of Interest process; 21 May; ENA

Addis Ababa, May 21/2020(ENA) As part of liberalizing its telecom sector, Ethiopia has launched request for Expressions of Interest (EOI) to issue two new telecommunications licenses.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, Finance State Minister Eyob Tekalign said many  operators from across the world are interested in the liberalization of Ethiopia’s telecom sector.

The government has not yet started discussion with operators because of the decision to apply  water tight procedures, he added.

“We are now inviting key operators to officially express their interests.  This means we would be able to shortlist potential candidates that are interested to participate in the Ethiopian telecommunication market in the next four weeks. Then we will go to the more rigorous transaction process of request for qualification and request for proposal,” Eyob elaborated.

Digital economy is important for growth, the State Minister said, adding that this is why the sector, particularly ICT, was given due attention in the Homegrown Economic Reform.

Speaking about the liberalization process in general, Eyob stated that citizens should expect maximization of overall value from the public assets.

“The public can rest assured that the government is running this process in strict discipline and with close oversight of the prime minister himself as the macroeconomic team under him has the responsibility to make sure the process is run properly,” he emphasized.

Some 40 percent of Ethio Telecom shares will be sold as part of partial privatization of the company, the state minister said, and pointed out that considerable number of shares will go   to the Ethiopian public.

Ethiopian Communication Authority (ECA) Director-General, Balcha Reba said on his part that all the necessary preparations with regard to legal and technical matters are finalized.

ECA has developed 12 essential directives, including licensing, service quality, numbering, administration, consumer privacy and protection, as well as dispute resolution in addition to  the telecom regulatory framework.

“We set different targets and obligations for the operators and these will be provided for them as coverage target both in a manner of having the geographic and population coverage,” Balcha stated.

According to him, liberalizing the telecommunication sector has paramount significance in knowledge transfer, besides the additional revenue and competition it brings to the existing Ethio Telecom.

“There is also the interconnection issue because Ethio Telecom has now nationwide network. The new operators, till they roll out their own network, will share the infrastructure of Ethio Telecom through interconnection. At the same time, they will have a national roaming. So, Ethio Telecom generates both from the interconnection and the national roaming from the new operators,” the director-general elaborated.

Finance Minister Senior Advisor, Dr. Brook Taye said this is an important step as it creates additional options for the nation.

He noted that “… the entry of the two new telecom operators would completely transform the digital economy of Ethiopia.”

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