Econet Global, owned by Zimbabwean philanthropist, Strive Masiyiwa, is keen to acquire a telecommunications license in Ethiopia, which is opening up the industry to foreign investment for the first time.
The Horn of Africa state is expected to invite bids for two new licenses to compete with its monopoly Ethiopian Telecommunications Corp., which is also slated for part privatization this year.
Safaricom and Vodacom intend to vie for one of the two permits, while Safaricom does not rule out participating in the privatization of Ethiopian Telecom.
“Econet, through a number of its subsidiaries is actively developing interests in Ethiopia. Given that there is a competitive process on new licenses, it would not be appropriate at this stage to discuss our own positioning,” Econet Global says.
Econet has operations in Africa in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Burundi, and investments in Europe and South America. Masiyiwa also has shares in Liquid Telecom, Africa’s biggest fiber company, has assets across the continent.
Ethiopia has more than 108 million people and about 50 million phone subscribers and about 60% of Ethiopia’s adult population is unbanked.