ECA to regulate new telecom fees

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(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

The Ethiopian Communication Authority (ECA) will be responsible for regulating tariffs when the two new telecom companies receive licenses next March, said Balcha Reba, Director General of the Authority.
The Ministry of Finance held talks about the telecom’s draft regulation document on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at Sheraton Addis Hotel.
After the government’s bold decision to liberalize telecom last year the Ethiopian Communication Authority was established to regulate the telecom sector.
Some of their responsibilities will be to license and supervise telecom service providers, regulate tariffs and specify technical standards.
“The government announced liberalizing the sector, indeed with the objectives of creating a more competitive environment, promoting customers’ choice, attracting investment and accessibility, lower prices and a higher quality of service,” said Ahmed Shade Minister of Finance.
This was the first opportunity for stakeholders to meet in person although there is a platform for commenting on the Internet.
“Tariff regulation is one of the economic regulatory frameworks, the Authority is dealing with in order to protect the customer, create a fair play ground and consider the expense of the operators when setting the tariff,” Balch added.
More competition means lower prices and better service, according to Balch.
The Director General pointed to security concerns as one reason for keeping telecom in State hands, however now with cyber security technology they are more confident that this can be managed well.
The authority has the right to access data after a court decision and they can fit a router interception at the tower of any operator if they feel security concerns warrant this action. INSA is also working with the Authority to address cyber security issues.
The regulatory framework is supposed to be aligned with an international modality and stakeholders are expected to give feedback in order to create well developed documents.
Other issues addressed at the meeting included the selection process, what mechanisms they would use, the timeline for regulations to be put in place, and standards for competition with Ethio-telecom.
“I don’t see any problem for a certain company to compete for both [partial privatization and operation] as long as they are capable,” said Tim Kelly from the World Bank group.
“In terms of the timeline, March 2020, is unchanged for both partial privatization and operator licensing the ministry is doing both side by side and the selection process, mechanisms will be decided after the consultation is made with international bench marks,” said Biruk Taye Senior Adviser of the Ministry of Finance.