Jan 12 , 2019

The government is drafting a new proclamation to form a body to be tasked with regulating the telecom and postal services and  reports directly to the Office of the Prime Minister.

The current Standardization & Regulation Directorate that has been operating under the former Ministry of Communications & Information Technology will be dissolved, replaced by the new federal entity, Telecom & Postal Services Regulatory Agency.

The bill has been under draft for the past six months jointly by the Directorate, Ethio telecom, Ethiopian Postal Services and the Ministry of Finance.

The first draft of the proclamation has been finalised and is expected to be legislated and become effective in the coming two months, according to a senior executive who is familiar with the process.

“In order to transfer the telecomindustry, the major precondition is forming a strong regulatory body,” Frehiwot Tamiru, CEO of Ethio telecom, told journalists during a press conference held at the end of last month. “The Agency will be more essential when the sector is liberalised.”

The latest announcement of the partial privatisation of the state telecom company instigated the drafting of the new proclamation, according to the senior executive.

In early June of last year, the Executive Committee of the ruling EPRDF unanimously voted to partially privatise some of the most profitable state enterprises with the government retaining majority stakes.

Ethio telecom, Ethiopian Airlines, Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprise and Ethiopian Electric Power, as well as state-owned railways, sugar factories, industrial parks, hotels and manufacturing plants, are among the state enterprises that will be partially privatised with that decision.

“There is also a plan to liberalise the telecom industry in the coming two to three years,” the senior executive told Fortune.

For the last two months, Ethio telecom has been undergoing various reforms and changes. It has made tariff amendments on voice calls, mobile data and broadband internet services. The company has also adjusted tariffs on international outgoing calls and text messages. Additionally, it launched web hosting and email services.

Ethio telecom is also in the process of amending communications proclamations as part of the reform that is happening in the company and to cope with the current status of the global telecom industry, according to the CEO.

The telecom monopoly has been reporting to the former Ministry of Communication & Information Technology. After the dissolution of the Ministry, it has been overseen by its board and reports financial matters to the Ministry of Finance and corporate governance issues to the Public Enterprises Holding & Administration Agency.

The Directorate has been partially performing the responsibilities of the new agency. It has been issuing licenses for installation and maintenance of cable, wireless local loop, exchange and maintenance of terminal equipment.

Before it was moved to the old Ministry of Communication & Information Technology, the Directorate was named the Ethiopian Telecommunication Agency and was accountable to the former Ministry of Transport & Communication. It was tasked with promoting the development of high quality, efficient, reliable and affordable telecommunication services in Ethiopia.

“We do not believe that there has been a strong regulatory agency,” Frehiwot said.

Beyond regulating the telecom industry, the Agency will also play a greater role in resolving disputes between multiple telecom operators and facilitating interconnections among them, according to Frehiwot.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 12,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 976]

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