Bidders See Business Potential as Lucrative; Switch off Orders as a Challenge


Ethio Telecom CEO Frehiwot Tamiru told a press conference in late July that the telecoms company’s revenues had grown significantly, in large part due to network expansion and a 5.8% increase in its subscriber numbers. At 46.2 million subscribers, the company now covers account nearly half of the country’s population. As part of the Ethiopia’s economic reform, the state monopoly’s privatization of Ethio Telecom is underway as the Ethiopian government processes the dozen bids it received for a minority stake from multinationals and consortiums in June.

The deal, probably the most anticipated corporate restructuring on the continent, attracted bids from nine telecoms companies including MTN Group of South Africa, Saudi Telecom, Atisalat, Telkom SA, and a consortium of the Vodafone group which includes Kenya’s Safaricom, and its parent company, Vodacom of South Africa. It also includes two non-telecom operators. Ethiopia plans to partially privatize the company by selling a stake to whoever wins the bidding process.  The current state monopoly switched off internet access in capital and several other parts of the country in early to late July, as Oromia protested the murder and burial place of one of its cultural icons. While the switch off the main security measures the PM Abiy administration took was easy since Ethio-Telecom is a state company, it would probably be harder for private multinationals.

The former ruling EPRDF policy was pro developmental state in which governments actively play a leading role in expanding key development infrastructures while balancing the fair distribution of economic returns for the general public.



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