(Bloomberg) –Ethiopia is pushing ahead with plans to sell two new telecommunications licenses following delays due to the coronavirus outbreak and postponed elections.
Almost two years after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced a plan to open up the market, the government on Thursday opened a month-long window for potential buyers to submit expressions of interest, with the International Finance Corp. as advisor.
Africa’s second-most populous country is one of the final frontiers for telecom investors, and carriers such as Orange SA, MTN Group Ltd. and Vodacom Group Ltd. are among those eyeing the opportunity. It will be a “competitive bidding process,” according to an emailed statement from the Ethiopian Communication Authority.
Last month, the ECA published the first three of a dozen draft directives to guide operations in the sector including dispute resolution. Ethiopia’s initial plans to issue licenses by March 2020 were disrupted by the decision to hold elections on Aug. 29, which the government later postponed indefinitely due to the virus outbreak.
Abiy’s administration wants to offer two new licenses and sell part of the state-controlled monopoly, Ethio Telecom, to help liberalize the economy and attract more foreign capital. Consultancy firm KPMG completed a valuation of the company, now under review by the board.