ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian government said it is on course to complete the issuance of two new telecom licenses by April this year.
The East African country also disclosed that its finalizing preparations to complete partial privatization of Ethio Telecom, the country's sole telecom services provider, within the next five to six months, the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance disclosed on late Wednesday.
Biruk Taye, Senior Advisor at the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance, said the partial privatization of Ethio Telecom and full privatization of the sugar estates have been among the major activities given priority.
"The next major deliverable would be to complete the partial privatization of Ethio Telecom and that should be done within the next five to six months," Taye was quoted as saying by state-run Ethiopian News Agency (ENA).
Noting that the issuance of two new telecom licenses would be concluded on April 5, 2021, Taye also stressed that "we will be able to identify the two new telecom operators that (will) join the Ethiopian telecom market by April."
According to Taye, the partial privatization of Ethio Telecom will be completed "immediately" after the two new telecom operators are identified.
The East African country's move to allow local and international investors to buy stakes in some of its largest state-owned enterprises came after Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed Ali, took office in April 2018.
The East African country had also announced its plan to sell a host of state-owned firms, either partially or entirely, as part of a major economic reform drive designed to unleash the potential of the private sector.
Late last month, Sharing Mobile Group, a Chinese telecom operator, said its joining the bid for the telecom license in Ethiopia as the East African country envisaged liberalizing the telecom sector.
The Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) published a statement in May 2020, announcing that it would launch a request for proposals for two new full-service telecommunications licenses, which would allow capable operators to conduct telecommunications business in Ethiopia.
According to the Ethiopian government, the key policy objectives that comprise the telecom reforms envisage enhancing Ethiopia's digital development; increasing telecommunications accessibility for sections of society and enable the success of the sector; building an international standard telecom industry focused on capacity and quality; as well as enabling the country to generate wealth from the sector.
Since its establishment in September 2019, the ECA has engaged in an intensive effort to spearhead the telecom liberalization effort in Ethiopia.
According to ECA's plan, licenses will be awarded to the winning companies through a sealed bidding process.
Sharing Mobile has joined the bidding process, together with South African telecom operator MTN Group, French telecom operator Orange and British telecom operator Vodafone.
On June 26, 2020, the ECA announced that it received 12 submissions on the closing date of June 22, 2020, of which 9 were said to be telecom operators, 2 non-telecom operators and 1 incomplete submission. Enditem