MTN, Vodacom eye opportunity in Ethiopia

21 June 2019

Telecoms

Both MTN and Vodacom see potential for growth in the Ethiopian market, which this week opened to foreign investment after decades of state control.

"MTN has long held the view that Ethiopia offers great opportunities for growth, both for the people of Ethiopia and for the businesses that could serve them, through the liberalisation of the telecommunication market in that country," an MTN spokesperson told ITWeb via e-mail.

"MTN is excited by the potential opening up of the Ethiopian market as it would be a natural fit for MTN's existing and extensive Pan-African footprint."

This after Ethiopia's government on Tuesday said it would allow private domestic and foreign investment in state-owned telecoms, aviation, shipping and power companies. This was a major policy shift from Ethiopia's new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, that analysts believe could loosen the state's grip on the economy.

The Horn of Africa nation has a population of around 100 million people, making it Africa's second largest nation, after Nigeria, and an appealing market in which to offer mobile and fixed-line services.

"Vodacom has said on many occasions that Ethiopia is an attractive market so it follows that there would be interest. Naturally, this is dependent on what might become available and if it fits within our investment parameters," the telco told ITWeb via e-mail.

According to Reuters, the economic reforms come two months after Abiy took power, promising political changes to address growing anger among the youth over unemployment and ethnic marginalisation.

Meanwhile, companies have been waiting in the wings for Ethiopia to open its state monopolies and although it's still early days, operators like MTN say they are encouraged by the government changes.

MTN has had a representative office in Ethiopia for a number of years and has had a value-added services licence in the country since 2013.

"MTN's licence to provide value-added services in Ethiopia was recently renewed and we continue to maintain an office in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia presents many exciting telecommunication opportunities and we look forward to further discussions with that nation's authorities on potential partnerships and opportunities," the telco says.

MTN operates in 22 countries across Africa and the Middle East, and Vodacom operates in five African nations. Read the full article on ITWeb Africa here