Consortium Answers Ethiopia's Call for Cellphone Operator

Ethiopia's Council of Ministers has unanimously authorised the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) to grant a new nationwide telecom licence to the Global Partnership for Ethiopia - a consortium of Kenya's Safaricom, UK's Vodafone and CDC groups, as well as South Africa's Vodacom Group and Japan's Sumitomo Corporation. South Africa's Vodacom and UK's Vodafone own a combined 40% stake in Safaricom. The consortium offered the highest licencing fee and a very solid investment case. The total licence fee from the consortium was U.S.$850 million and the investment is expected to provide 1.5 million jobs within ten years, writes Bilal Derso for the Ethiopian Herald. The bid from South African cellphone operator MTN was not accepted as it was considered too low.

The ECAs Director-General Riba Balca said: "The entry of a new operator signals the government's commitment to the reform agenda introduced two years ago as part of the Homegrown Economic Reform programme, an ambitious and far-reaching package of economic reforms aiming to transform Ethiopia's economy. The bid for the second licence operator will be re-tendered soon", he added.

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