The Ethiopian government’s announcement that it is intending to push ahead with the liberalisation of the country’s telecommunications sector has attracted significant international interest. This includes plans to divest a 49% stake in Ethio Telecom, the state monopoly operator, and to issue two licenses to new multinational operators.
Ethiopia is one of the world’s last major closed telecom markets with a population of over 100 million and one of the lowest mobile penetration rates in Africa. Several global telecom firms have expressed interest, including Safaricom, MTN, Orange, Etisalat and Deutsche Telekom. KPMG have been appointed to evaluate Ethio Telecom’s assets, with an adviser on the privatisation process expected to be appointed shortly.
There are likely to be opportunities across the telecommunications value chain. A sale of a minority stake in Ethio Telecom may lead to a review of the company’s equipment suppliers, which includes Huawei and Ericsson and there are expected to be significant opportunities for independent towers operators to expand the existing network.