Zimbabwe telecoms magnate to bid on Ethiopian telco licence

Published: 25 February 2020 - 7:18 a.m.

Econet Global could be set to submit a bid for a telecoms licence in the country’s forthcoming auction.

Ethiopia is opening up its telecoms sector to foreign investment for the first time and Econet Global’s Zimbabwean owner, Strive Masiyiwa, is believed to be interested in obtaining a licence.

“Econet, through a number of its subsidiaries, is actively developing interests in Ethiopia,” a company spokesman told journalists from Bloomberg in an emailed response to questions. “Given that there is a competitive process on new licenses, it would not be appropriate at this stage to discuss our own positioning.”

Ethiopia is set to grant the licences to two bidders at its forthcoming auction, as it looks to open up its previously state-run telecoms sector to private investment.

The auction is expected to provide a significant windfall for the Ethiopian government, as operators prepare to pay through the nose for their licences. The auction is expected to raise in excess of $1 billion.

It is not yet clear as to the extent that foreign investors will be allowed to participate in Ethiopia’s telecoms sector, and whether they will face ownership limits.

Econet currently provides telecoms services in Zimbabwe, Burundi and Lesotho and has long harboured ambitions to expand into the horn of Africa.

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