(Reuters) – Ethiopia plans to award two telecommunication licenses to multinational mobile companies by April 2020, the new communications regulator said on Tuesday, an apparent delay in the timeline officials had previously set.
Balcha Reba, director-general of the Ethiopian Communications Authority, gave the date at a press conference. In June, Reuters reported that Ethiopia would issue the licenses by the end of the year, quoting Ethiopian officials and telecoms executives with direct knowledge of the process.
The issuing of licenses will end a state monopoly and open up one of the world’s last major closed telecoms markets in the country of around 100 million.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a push to liberalize the country’s economy last year.
The communications regulator, formed after parliament passed a law covering the liberalization of the sector, will hold a meeting on Nov. 12 in the Ethiopian capital to answer questions of interested companies, Balcha said.
Vodafone, South African operator MTN, France’s Orange and Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates are likely to be among the leading contenders vying for entry into the Ethiopian market.