The consortium, which includes Vodafone and Vodacom, paid $ 850 million for the license, officials said.
Ethiopia’s telecommunications regulator has granted an operating license to a consortium led by Safaricom in Kenya and Sumitomo in Japan, officials say, a move that will end the state’s monopoly over its ailing telecommunications sector.
The consortium, which includes Vodacom, Vodafone and UK development finance agency CDC Group, paid $ 850 million for the license, Brook Taye, senior advisor at the finance ministry, said on Saturday.
South African firm MTN had also bid for a license, but its $ 600 million bid was deemed too low.
The consortium led by Safaricom is expected to create up to 1.5 million new jobs and provide $ 8.5 billion in investment over 10 years, according to the government.
The Council of Ministers today unanimously made a landmark decision allowing the Ethiopian Communications Authority to grant a new nationwide telecommunications license to the Global Partnership for Ethiopia, which provided the rights to highest license and a very solid investment record. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/Ht6z95BHzZ
– Abiy Ahmed Ali 🇪🇹 (@AbiyAhmedAli) May 22, 2021
“It will be the biggest IDE [Foreign Direct Investment] in Ethiopia to date, ”Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a Twitter post. “Our drive to make Ethiopia fully digital is on track. I would like to thank everyone who participated and for carrying out a very transparent and efficient process. “
Abiy’s government was planning to award two new telecommunications licenses, but at the end of April it announced that it had only received two offers after some companies that had initially expressed interest – notably Orange in France and Etisalat in France. UAE – had chosen not to submit.
Balcha Reba, director general of the Ethiopian Communications Authority, said the second license will be re-tendered soon.
The licenses are expected to provide an injection of cash, jobs and infrastructure investment.
The Safaricom-led consortium will provide 4G and 5G internet services, and by 2023 a low-orbit satellite will be in place to provide nationwide 4G coverage, Brook said.
“A memorable day for Ethiopia!” he wrote on Twitter.
“Imagine the quality and efficiency service it will generate, the new opportunities, millions of jobs and the transformative effect of our economy!”
Ethiopia’s telecommunications reforms also include a plan to sell a stake in Ethio Telecom, a move officials hope will make the company more efficient.