BUSINESSNews

Safaricom-led consortium wins Ethiopia’s telecom license

Story Highlights
  • Safaricom will establish a new operating company in Ethiopia which aims to start providing telecommunications services from 2022.
  • A total of 12 firms had applied for the Ethiopia telecoms license last year, according to the regulator
  • Safaricom’s bid included a consortium of firms including Vodafone Group Plc and Vodacom Group Limited

Ethiopia ’s telecommunications regulator has awarded an operating licence to a consortium led by Kenya’s Safaricom and Japan’s Sumitomo

Safaricom, a partner member of the Vodafone Group, and will establish a new operating company in Ethiopia which aims to start providing telecommunications services from 2022. In addition to Safaricom, the partnership includes: Vodacom Group; Vodafone Group; Sumitomo Corporation – one of the largest international trading and business investment companies; and CDC Group – the UK’s development finance institution and impact investor.

“We are excited for the opportunity to work with the people of Ethiopia to set up telecom networks to deliver a digital lifestyle. In past years, we have seen the power of digital transformation and its impact on our customers. We believe by working with all stakeholders in Ethiopia, we can deliver a similar transformation while achieving a sustainable return to our shareholders.” Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom, said.

Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub noted that the consortium partners have a great track record for delivering transformative technology services, particularly when it comes to health, education and agriculture, built on quality telecom networks. ‘

’’We want to make a real difference to the lives of Ethiopians through promoting widespread digital inclusion as part of Vodacom’s pledge to connect the next 100 million Africans by 2025.” he said.

Ethiopia is home to over 112 million people, making it the second-largest country in Africa by population. It is one of the last countries in the world to introduce competition in the telecom industry, a rigorous process started by the government in 2019 as part of its Economic Reform Agenda, with the support of the International Finance Corporation. The reforms aim to increase jobs, reduce poverty and grow the local economy in an inclusive and sustainable manner.

“This is a significant development for Ethiopia, which is one of the last very large markets in the world to introduce telecom competition. We want to play a transformational role in ensuring Ethiopia’s huge economic and developmental potential is realised through the deployment of next-generation connectivity and digital services, creating an inclusive and sustainable digital society.” Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone Group, said.

A total of 12 firms had applied for the Ethiopia telecoms license last year, according to the regulator, as the country planned to open up its nascent telecom industry.

Safaricom’s bid included a consortium of firms including Vodafone Group Plc and Vodacom Group Limited, but the company maintained a majority stake of 51 per cent.

Other firms that had applied for the advertised Ethiopia telco license include Etisalat, Axian, MTN, Orange, Liquid Telecom, Snail Mobile, Kandu Global Communications, Saudi Telecom Company Telkom SA, among others.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I write about tech, business and African startups. Founder and Editor For TechTrendsKE. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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