Liberalizing Telecom Sector Exhibits Ethiopia’s Pragmatic Economic Reform: MoF

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Addis Ababa May 3 /2021 Liberalizing telecom sector from a monopoly regime to an open competition is a significant statement and manifestation to Ethiopia’s pragmatic economic reform, Ministry of Finance says.

Ethio-Telecom has been the sole operator of the telecom sector in Ethiopia. However, following the initiative taken by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to privatize the telecom sector, the government awarded 40 percent of the sector to foreign investors.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, Advisor to the Minister, Biruk Taye says two new operators are expected to join the market as the tender has already been submitted last week.

Ethiopia has received two bids including Africa`s largest telecom operator, MTN and world`s largest telecom with 700 million subscribers, Vodafone/Vodacom and Safaricom.

“This is a significant statement to Ethiopia`s economic reform and Ethiopia as an investment destination,” he noted.

Citing the significance of technology for the modern world, the advisor said, “In any economy in the world, without focusing on the fourth wheel which is the technology that would allow efficient optimal service provision to citizens, and businesses, you will not be able to achieve your strategy . So, having competition and having alternative providers in the economy is very critical.”

So far, both the Ministry of Finance and the Communication Authority (ECA) are designing the proclamation for the first time, liberalizing the sector, allowing domestic and foreign participants to operate in the telecom sector.

This is by way of becoming an operator, an internet service provider, data center providers, and everything that would expect from the ICT sector, it was indicated.

So, domestic and foreign companies could come and provide services and the ECA has designed over 19 new directives to allow fair and just regulation in the sector.

“Overall, when you have a significant number of young people in the country, you cannot have all of them work in a factory. You have to be able to create alternative mechanisms where they are the ones who are able to create their own different futures and they create their own jobs,” Biruk stated.

Ethiopia is also a very ideal place for service export business operation facilities, he noted

“We have a significantly large ICT Park in Addis and we are actually waiting for different types of services to be completed being one of the major sources of growth in the ICT sector,” he said.

So, in health, agriculture, education and finance sectors technology is very critical. “We hope that the coming of these operators and market liberalizing competition would be able to achieve the country`s economic strategy”.

It is to be recalled that the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) has recently announced that the bid for two new nationwide telecommunications service licenses has closed.

The ECA will select the winners of the two licenses after an extensive review of the final qualifying submissions, the statement of the Authority read, it was learned.

Accordingly, the winners of the two licenses will then be publicly announced once the technical and financial evaluation is completed.