ECA grants RFP extension following plea

Balcha Reba, Director General of ECA

The Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) disclosed that the request for proposals (RFP) submission has been postponed by one month as per the request of bidders. About 36 requests and expression of interest from all over the world had come from those who wanted to be involved in the bid.
Balcha Reba, Director General of ECA, told Capital that as per the biding law and procedure there is a scheme of undertaking explanation and briefing for the queries rose by bidders and on that process bidders have been interested to get an extension period for preparation to participate on the bid.
On its tweet on February first, ECA stated that subsequent requests received from bidders during the question and answer period of the RFP for the two nationwide telecom licenses, “ECA would like to announce that the bid submission date of the RFP has been adjusted, as such, the new RFP submission date is now April 5, 2021.”
Director General said that bidders have been interested to postpone the bid opening period up to two months.
“On such kind of huge project, companies needs ample time for documentation, and need to finalize their discussions with financial partners and shareholders due to that we have accepted the extension of one month for RFP opening,” he explains, “it is also helps to manage good competition and make attractive the process besides keep the interest of positional investors.”
Balcha, head of ECA that was formed about 18 months ago, declined to give the number of companies who bought RFP document due since it would have an impact on the process.
“About 36 interests had come from companies from almost all over the world but those who signed the nondisclosure agreement and bought the document shall participate on the competition,” he said and hinted that some companies have already bought the document and are on process on the bid.
The ECA head said that the government has given appropriate attention to conclude the bidding in a transparent manner.
“On this bidding any communication with positional bidders will be conducted under the procedure stated on the bid document; for instance, when companies preparing their bid document they shall raise different clarifications and information separately but the response would not be given individually,” he explained.
So far two clarifications session have been conducted for the questions raise by companies.
He said that the law enforcement operation at the northern part of Ethiopia so far do not have any effect on the bid process.
“Companies that had expressed their interest in the past to invest on the telecom sector in Ethiopia are now participating on the RFP, which shows that the government’s law enforcement operation does not have effect on the process,” he explained.
On the RFP announcement press conference late November last year, Eyob Tekalign, State Minister of Finance, said that the current mission that the government is taking in the north of the country against the TPLF clique would not have any effect on the process rather it is a relief for investors.
“It is a relief for investor because any potential problem in the country has diminished for good,” Eyob was said.
The highly anticipated RFP to add two more telecom operators in the country on the way of liberalizing the sector from the current monopoly of Ethio Telecom was stated as the symbol for restructuring the government policy in conjunction with opening up the economy with a newer approach.
Balcha expressed that this is a big market with 110 million people, “As far as the telecom industry is concerned, it is the last frontier in the world.”
The RFP document that has different annexes and different sample licenses sold for USD 15,000, which is more than half a million birr.
As per the initial announcement, the ECA had scheduled to open the bid on March 5 that is now extended to Monday April 5.
ECA has five international technical advisor institutions and five in house staff experts who engage on the process, while the qualitative and financial proposals have got adequate and proportionate attention on the bidding process.
The process has objectives including fulfilling the goal of building an inclusive digital economy and to build a first class telecom industry in the country.
The tender notice stated that the objectives of the telecommunications sector reform are to expand reliable and accessible communications for all Ethiopians in order to enhance the economic and social development of the country and promote rapid economic transformation and growth.
“Greater connectivity will lead to improvements in the quality of life for Ethiopians and maximize the opportunities presented by the digital economy,” the notice added.
The reformist government is highly interested to expand the ICT industry and artificial intelligence that have a potential to catch more jobs with skilled labour.
Few months ago, Eyob said, “We have a fairly a good idea of what our spectrum is worth. We expect the license award will be known in 14 days after opening the bid.”
The partial privatization process of Ethio Telecom is also expected to be in effect soon, while the government did not give any timeframe on when the bid will be announced.