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Ethiopia rows back on liberalisation of its telecoms market

The government is said to have paused plans to auction off 2 telecoms licences to international telcos in the East African nation

Ethiopia rows back on liberalisation of its telecoms market

Ethiopia remains one of the world’s last remaining telecoms monopolies, with state owned Ethio Telecom presiding over a market of 44.5 million mobile network subscribers.

Over the course of the past 18 months, the Ethiopian government has revealed plans to open up its market to international investors, announcing plans to auction off two 15 year licences to prospective mobile network operators to provide services across the country. The licences are expected to raise over $1 billion in revenues for the government, and the government received applications from 12 international and regional telcos to participate in the proposed auction.

However, an article published by The East African news site now states that the government is suspending the potential entry of foreign telcos into the country’s telecoms sector, as it looks to protect revenue streams for its incumbent operator.  

"The government has decided not to allow foreign telecom infrastructure companies. They will not be allowed to operate here," Ethio Telecom chief executive Frehiwot Tamiru told reporters from The East African.

It remains unclear as to whether the Ethiopian government will proceed with plans to allow foreign investors to purchase a 40 per cent stake in Ethio Telecom.

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