Scarcely a day goes by without more developments linked to the ongoing changes in Ethiopia’s mobile communications sector to allow more competition. This time it’s news of a delay relating to the second private telecoms licence – one that will bring a third mobile player into the country.
According to the Ethiopian Monitor news service, regulator the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) has had requests for a delay to the submission date for the Request for Qualification (RFQ) relating to the new license.
The process initially had 15 September as a deadline for RFQ submission. However, the ECA has now said that it “has received concerns and requests from several prospective investors to extend the deadline”. The regulator has responded by extending the RFQ submission date by 20 more days. Submissions are now due by 6 October. The RFQ process began on 30 July.
The process is a part of the government’s plan to issue the full-service License B, as it is known, to private investors within six months.
When the new licence is finally awarded, state-owned Ethio Telecom and recent arrival Safaricom won’t make things easy for the new player as they continue to battle it out for subscriber numbers.
Last week, as we reported, Ethio Telecom announced that it had rolled out commercial 5G services in Addis Ababa. The week before came news of a free data campaign from Safaricom alongside web innovator Opera.
There’s still room for a new entrant to take on these two operators, but further delays could make things difficult. Meanwhile, of course, plans are under way for a tender to sell up to 40 % of shares in Ethio Telecom.