The Ethiopian government has officially called off the process of issuing a third telecoms license, citing a lack of interest. The decision comes after reports revealed that potential bidders were deterred by concerns over political instability in Ethiopia.
Hinjat Shamil, a senior adviser at the ministry overseeing the bidding process, stated, “The license process has been terminated. We had not launched a request for bids yet, because we wanted to assess market potential and readiness.” She further explained that the market interest did not align with the government’s plans to initiate the Request for Proposals (RFP) at this time.
The interest in the third license had waned due to worries about political unrest in Ethiopia. The government had initiated a request for qualification earlier in the year. This move was part of the government’s broader strategy to fully liberalize the telecoms market in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia, with its substantial population of 120 million, had been viewed as one of the last untapped markets for international telecom companies. The government’s decision to open the telecom sector to foreign investment in 2018 led to the entry of Safaricom Ethiopia as a competitor against the state-owned operator, Ethio Telecom. Currently, the government is seeking to sell up to a 45% stake in Ethio Telecom to secure funding for upgrades and expansions to maintain competitiveness in the face of new rivals.