Wednesday, 08 April 2020

Zimbabwe’s richest man readies bid for Ethiopian telco licence

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Wednesday 26 February 20

The liberalisation of the Ethiopian telecoms market is attracting interest from all corners of the continent and beyond

South Africa’s Econet, owned by Zimbabwe’s richest man, Strive Masiyiwa, is the latest in a string of operators to declare interest in attaining one of Ethiopia’s two operating licences soon to be auctioned…

South Africa’s Econet, owned by Zimbabwe’s richest man, Strive Masiyiwa, is the latest in a string of operators to declare interest in attaining one of Ethiopia’s two operating licences soon to be auctioned.
 
The licences, which are estimated to cost over $1 billion, are set to be auctioned later this year, as the government moves to liberalise the market and sell as much as 49% of state-owned Ethio Telecom. 
 
“Econet, through a number of its subsidiaries, is actively developing interests in Ethiopia,” said Econet in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.
 
With over 100 million people and low data and internet penetration, Ethiopia is a huge and very attractive market for newcomers. 
 
It therefore comes as no surprise that many companies have been declaring their interest in recent months, including Orange, Vodacom, MTN, and Safaricom. However, the exceedingly high price tag for a licence remains a considerable obstacle.
 
Safaricom has recently announced that it is seeking partners to form a consortium for an upcoming bid.
 
While the auction of these licences was initially planned for Q1 of this year, with so many potential bidders hurrying to accrue the necessary funds, as well as a general election on the horizon for August, it seems likely that the auction will be delayed until later in the year.
 
 
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