Sunday, 27 September 2020

Not quite so liberal: Ethiopia suspends foreign infrastructure companies from entering market

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Monday 10 August 20

Ethio Telecom hopes to make a lot of money from renting its existing infrastructure to the incoming operators, hence strongly opposing additional infrastructure entrants

One of the last remaining telecoms monopolies in the world, Ethiopia is slowly moving towards liberalising its market, announcing in 2019 that it would be allowing two new service operators into the country, as well as selling a 40% stake in incumbent Ethio Telecom. As part of this liberalisation process…

One of the last remaining telecoms monopolies in the world, Ethiopia is slowly moving towards liberalising its market, announcing in 2019 that it would be allowing two new service operators into the country, as well as selling a 40% stake in incumbent Ethio Telecom.

As part of this liberalisation process, the Ethiopian Communication Authority (ECA) has reportedly been contacted by a number of telecoms infrastructure companies, including Helios Towers, hoping to gain entry to the country to build and lease infrastructure for the new operators.
 
Upon learning of this, however, Ethio Telecom have complained to the government, arguing that they have spent billions on infrastructure and if anyone should profit from leasing towers and fibre it should be them.
 
"We have built sufficient telecom infrastructures like fibre cables and mobile base masts that we can rent it to the newly entering companies. So the incoming telecom operators will either use our existing infrastructure by renting or build their own,” Ethio Telecom chief executive Frehiwot Tamiru told media on Thursday.
 
"We do not believe that the authority will take any action that could jeopardise Ethio Telecom's existence," she argued.
 
The government has reportedly been responsive to the telco’s pleas, agreeing to suspend the entrance of any foreign infrastructure companies into the market.
 
To what extent this news will impact the telecoms companies currently applying for one of the two teleco licences becoming available, or for a stake in Ethio Telecom itself, is unclear. At the end of June, the national regulator announced that 12 companies had registered their interest in gaining a licence, including Safaricom, Vodacom, and Orange.
 
The liberalisation process continues to move slowly, but with Ethiopia being Africa’s fastest growing market, operators will be all too happy to persevere.
 
 
Also in the news:

Since you're here...

...the Telecoms industry is characterised by constant change and evolution. That's why it's crucial for telecoms professionals to keep up-to-date with what is happening. Join 35,000+ of your peers and sign up to our free newsletter service today, to be in the know about what is going on. PLUS, as a member you can submit your own press releases!

See all membership options

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Newsletter signup

Quickly get on board and up to date with the telecoms industry