The recently established Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) today host a consultation meeting on Ethiopian telecommunication reform process and regulatory framework with potential investors gathered from different parts of the world.
Balcha Reba (Eng.), Director General of ECA, stated that the gathering will allow the authority to gather inputs for Ethiopia’s communications regulatory framework, which includes telecom company licensing process being drafted.
“We are liberalizing strategic sectors such as telecom, energy and logistics to enhance the quality of services and improve access. We have slotted key state-owned enterprises to private sector like, telecom, energy, sugar, logistics, railway and industries for partial or fully privatization. These reforms in strategic service sector are aimed to unleash the potential of our economy across the all sectors,” said Ahmed Shide, Finance Minister of Ethiopia, in his opening remark this morning in the capital, Addis Ababa.
Minister Ahmed stated that today’s consultation is the first of its kid since the new institution is established and aims to make the process transparent and participatory, while allowing the potential investors to understand where the government is at the moment in terms of liberalizing the telecom sector.
Ethiopia has set a target to add two new telecom operators into play in mid-March 2020 to end the monopoly of the state owned Ethio Telecom. The government has also announced its plan to sell up to 49% of Ethio Telecom for foreign telecom operators. The decision of the government with around 110 million populations, has attracted many global telecom operators from Safaricom, MTN and Huawei to Europe’s’ and American top telecom companies.
Currently most of the majority of Ethio Telecom’s infrastructure is installed by the Chinese companies ZTE and Huawei, which seem to have more comparative advantage to secure some shares in Ethio Telecom compared to other Western or African telecom companies bidding to secure the deal.
Meanwhile at this stage the government has not yet revealed what form the bid process will take. There are no shortlisted companies at this stage, according to Biruk Taye (PhD), senior advisor at the Minister of Finance of Ethiopia, who indicated that the report by the Reuters news agency was a mistake.
“On the public consultation document we indicated that what kind of method we intend to propose. Is it going to be an auction? Is it going to be beauty contest?…Today we expect to receive several feedback from stakeholders. Based on that, the government will prepare the necessary documents. On that document we will be able to indicate that individuals and stakeholders that will be participated in this process,” Dr. Biruk said.
He stated that the government of Ethiopia will take into considerations many different aspects before making the final decision.