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France Telecom wins ETC contract

France Telecom wins contract to manage ETC, as Ethiopia edges towards opening its telecoms sector to competition.

France Telecom, better known as Orange, is reported to have won a contract to manage Ethiopian operator ETC.
France Telecom, better known as Orange, is reported to have won a contract to manage Ethiopian operator ETC.

France Telecom has been selected to manage Ethiopia's incumbent telecom operator ETC, beating rival offers from India's BSNL and South Africa's MTN Group.

While France Telecom and ETC have yet to officially confirm the news, an unnamed source close to the deal told India's Economic Times that BSNL and MTN Group had lost to France Telecom.

A formal statement is expected when negotiations between France Telecom and ETC are completed, although it could be up to three months before France Telecom signs a deal and takes over the management of ETC, according to a report from online news service Afrik.com.

ETC, which is the last telecom operator in Africa to have a monopoly, has been investing heavily in its infrastructure in the past few years. Ongoing projects include the deployment of an 80 gigabyte fibre network to connect Ethiopia to the rest of the world via the Port of Sudan fibre landing station.

Ethiopia, which has a population of some 85 million people, has one of the lowest mobile penetration rates in the world, estimated to be less than 3%.

The Ethiopian government has so far resisted pressure from the International Monetary Fund to liberalise the country's telecoms sector, and even VoIP services remain blocked in the country.

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