Orange and Emirates E& are among the top contenders vying for a 45 percent stake in Ethiopia’s mobile industry, setting the stage for competition with Safaricom which is already in the market.

Ethiopia has opened the second bid for private investors as it liberalises its telecom industry which has over the years been dominated by the State.

The two multinational companies will square it up for the portion of Ethiopia’s telecommunication space as they seek a share of the country’s 126 million people.

Ethiopia’s budding telecommunications sector is considered one of the most lucrative in the economy as the once conservative country opens up to foreign investment for the first time.

Safaricom advert in Ethiopia. All Photos (courtesy).
Safaricom advert in Ethiopia. All Photos (courtesy).

Ethiopia’s Communications Authority has extended the bids to October 6, 2023, a move that could be aimed at attracting more players.

The requests for qualification for the second full-service nationwide telecommunications license, which was first announced on June 30, 2023, was to lapse on September 15.

The Ethiopian Communication Authority is set to issue the second license to the successful bidder by the end of this year.

Emirates Telecommunications Group Company PJSC, doing business as Etisalat by E& is an Emirati-based multinational telecommunications services provider, currently operating in 16 countries across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. It is the 18th largest mobile network operator in the world by number of subscribers.

Orange S.A., formerly France Télécom S.A. is a French multinational telecommunications corporation. It has 266 million customers worldwide and employs 89,000 people in France, and 59,000 elsewhere. In 2015, the group had a revenue of €40 billion.

The two firms will stir up competition in the Ethiopian market as the three telecom giants battle out for numbers.

Ethiopia’s mobile phone sector is targeting to attract 21 million users for the service in its first year of operations with projections for the five years standing at 33 million.

Safaricom led consortium that includes its parent firms Vodafone and Vodacom, British development finance agency CDC Group and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation won the second telco license award after submitting a financial bid of $850 million in 2021, defeating 12 other firms that had expressed interest as well.