Ethiopia is aiming to award telecoms licences to multinational mobile companies by the end of the year. File Image: IOL
Ethiopia is aiming to award telecoms licences to multinational mobile companies by the end of the year, ending a state monopoly and opening up one of the world’s last major closed telecoms markets, three people with direct knowledge of the process said. 

Ethiopia’s telecoms industry is considered the big prize in a push to liberalise the country’s economy launched last year by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, because of its huge protected market serving a population of around 100 million. 

Government officials have already looked at several potential options, including the sale of a minority stake in Ethio Telecom, granting of new licences to multiple telecoms operators or a combination of both. Abiy is keen to deliver quickly on his reform pledges, but preparing Ethio Telecom, the monopoly operator, for a partial sale is proving a lengthy process, said the sources, who asked not to be named. 

The authorities are opting to auction new licences first. 

 Reuters, African News Agency (ANA)