Ethiopian Parliament approves telecom liberalization law

Ethiopian parliament on Thursday approves “Communications Service Proclamation”, which officiates the liberalization of Ethiopia’s long-awaited telecom sector and allowing the establishment of a new telecom regulatory authority.

“Notwithstanding the terms of any other Proclamation or Regulation, telecommunications services, including ownership of a Telecommunications Operator or a Telecommunications Network, shall be open without limitation to private investors including both domestic investors and foreign investors,” reads Article 54 of the proclamation approved on Thursday, which talks about investment.

The new Communications Service Proclamation shall come in to force upon publication in the Federal Negarit Gazetta. In a related development Finance Minister Ahmed Shide has told the ruling party owned FBC that there the current state monopoly- Ethio Telecom will be split into two and there is no specific time table set for the process to be completed at the moment.

Under Article 53 of the new proclamation, which talks about Power to Issue Regulations and Directives, it is indicated that the Council of Ministers shall issue Regulations for the implementation of this Proclamation and the new Authority shall issue Directives for implementation of this Proclamation and Regulations issued as per this Proclamation.

“Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, the Authority shall have exclusive competence to determine, pronounce upon, administer, monitor and enforce compliance of all persons with competition laws and Directives, whether of a general or specific nature, as it relates to the Ethiopian Telecommunications Service market,” reads the part of the new proclamation that deals with competition.

The new proclamation has repealed the Telecommunications Proclamation No. 49/1996 (as amended); Telecommunications Services Council of Ministers Regulation No. 47/1999; Broadcasting Service Proclamation No. 533/2007 sub-Article (6) of Article 7 and Paragraphs (c) (o), (q), (r), and (s) of Sub-Article 1 of Article 20 of Proclamation 1097/2018.

It is recalled that about a year ago Ethiopian government has announced its plan to partially privatize Ethio tlecom, Ethiopian Airlines, power and logistics companies retaining the majority shares.

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