Ethiopia invites companies for expressions of interest to issue telecom licenses

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The Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) invites interested companies to come up with Expressions of Interest (EOI) to award two new telecommunications licenses.
The government invited interested companies to be shareholder at the state monopoly Ethio Telecom on its program to liberalize the sector.
The recently formed authority has now invited interested companies to take the proposed two licenses to be part of the competition with the oldest and only telecom enterprise in the country, Ethio Telecom.
In a statement the authority sent to Capital on Thursday May 21, the ECA is managing the license issuance process, which is a major development in the liberalization of Ethiopia’s telecommunications market.
“The issuance of the two new licenses to telecommunications companies, in addition to the existing license held by Ethio Telecom, is part of the government of Ethiopia’s Homegrown Economic Reform Agenda to introduce competition into the sector,” it added.
ECA stated that the primary goals of the government are to increase access to reliable and efficient communications services for all Ethiopians, leading to improvements in quality of life and in connectivity to support rapid economic transformation, and to maximize the opportunity presented by the digital economy.
Few weeks ago the government has tabled a draft proclamation of electronic transaction that targets to develop digital economy, improve the capability of the technology and expand the job creation in the sector.
“The launch of the EOI represents a significant milestone. Since the public consultation held in November 2019, we have undertaken a number of important activities, such as hiring the International Finance Corporation (IFC) as a transaction advisor and drafting numerous directives that will shape a robust legal and regulatory framework,” the ECA statement said.
Late April the authority drafted a new guideline for the award of new telecom licenses following the new telecommunications regulatory framework.
The two weeks consultation on proposed rules for licensing new entrants into the country’s telecom sector, alongside related directives on consumer rights and dispute resolutions stayed until May 11.
According to its statement issued on Thursday, the authority said that the sector liberalization process is continuing amid the Covid-19 crisis which shows the government’s strong will to fight the pandemic while keeping track of the ongoing economic reforms.
“The pandemic has underscored the importance of having reliable and accessible telecommunications to ensure the safety and well-being of Ethiopians and to maintain business continuity. Therefore, we remain committed to opening up the telecom sector and unlocking the transformational power of the digital economy,” it said.
Fitsum Assefa, Commissioner of Planning and Development Commission told Capital that COVID 19 enforced it to redefine its Ten Year Perspective Development Plan. Fitsum said that COVID 19 has given a lesson to redefine the plan. She emphasized the improvement of technology is mandatory for the growth in the coming years by showing how the current electronic operation and meetings are undertaking because of COVID 19.
“It shows us how things shall be changed and several operations shall be conducted online without physical appearance. We are now providing e learning and other operations that was not going online in the past and it has also improves the day to day activity,” Fitsum explained how the technology transformation would be the next major pillar for the country development.
The EOI will stay until June 22.