Fortune News | Nov 29,2020
November 14 , 2020
By FASIKA TADESSE ( FORTUNE STAFF WRITER )
The first five directives that will enable the Ethiopian Communications Authority to launch a request for proposal for the issuance of two new telecommunication licenses are set to be approved in 10 days. The Authority, which is in charge of regulating the communications services, is scheduled to hold a final discussion this week on the draft directives that were availed for stakeholder consultations.
Communications licensing; collocation and infrastructure sharing; quality of service; telecommunications networks interconnection; and telecommunications numbering are the directives set to pass. The Universal Access & Service Framework, which requires telecom operators to cover 98pc of the population with voice call and text message services in five years, is also required to be enacted before the bidding process started.
All the legal frameworks are needed for the preparation of the request for proposal (RFP) document.
Upon the approval of the directives, the Authority will launch RFPs for the companies that showed interest to join the telecommunications business of the country, which has been monopolised by the state company for over 125 years.
"We need these legal frameworks to be approved before launching the RFP, which has reached the final stage of preparation,” Balcha Reba, director-general of the Authority, told Fortune.
Since May, the Authority has availed 12 draft directives, a regulation and a framework for public consultation in three rounds. The consultation period was closed two weeks ago, and the Authority stepped up to hold a final virtual briefing with stakeholders, who gave comments on the draft directives. The session, scheduled to be held on November 16, 2020, is expected to be attended by 150 participants including individuals, potential bidders and experts in the telecommunications industry.
"We've gone through all the collected feedback and suggestions," said the director-general of the Authority, which also drafted directives for conflict resolution, SIMcard registration and rooming services. "And we incorporated the points that we believe to be legitimate and valid."
During the meeting, the Authority will update the stakeholders concerning which comments were taken into account and which did not occur along with the reasons.
Comments from stakeholders include replacing vague wordings that were open for interpretations, elaborating on the non-specific points, as well as addressing overlooked points among others, according to Balcha.
Tabling the legal framework for to the board of directors of the Authority for final approval will follow the discussion, according to him.
After the board approves the directives, the Authority will launch the request for proposal that will stay open for 90 days. For the expression of interest that was launched a few months ago, Global Partnership for Ethiopia, a consortium of telecom operators comprised of Vodafone, Vodacom and Safaricom; Etisalat; Axian; MTN; Orange; Saudi Telecom Company; Telkom SA; Liquid Telecom; and Snail Mobile have shown interest in obtaining licenses. Kandu Global Telecommunications and Electromecha International Projects are also the two non-telecom operators that expressed intent to invest in Ethiopia.
The two winning companies, along with the incumbent Ethio telecom, will get a 15-year license that will enable them to provide combined services for mobile, internet and fixed line services.
The Authority also availed a daft regulation for the establishment of a universal access fund, which raises fees from the telecom operators and companies in the country that are expected to commit 1.5pc of their annual gross revenues to improve telecom access in the country. Besides, it is in the process of preparing four more directives ahead of issuing the two licenses.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which was contracted as a transaction advisor, is assisting the Authority in the process. IFC has also hired four international consultants in charge of the technical aspects; taxes and auditing; and the legal and communications issues.
The process has been paused for a few weeks until multi-round consultative meetings were held with the public, opposition party leaders, as well as industry operators. A month ago, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) gave the green light to proceed with the privatisation and liberalisation processes of the telecom industry.
Terrefe Ras-Work, a telecom expert with four decades of experience working as a consultant for International Telecom Union, argues that it is not good timing to launch the expression of interest. He indicated the ongoing conflict in the northern part of the country could pose a negative impact on the process.
"Companies will lose appetite to buy a license," he said. "Even those who decide to come will offer low prices."
Terrefe also has fears that the timing might allow companies that wish to join the industry for political purposes rather than business. He says that foreign companies might use the communications business to listen to the heartbeat of the people, arguing that many African countries compromised their sovereignty after they let in foreign telecom operators.
The policymakers, who believe bringing new telecom operators on board will create competition and ensure the quality of service, say that they are working on stringent legal frameworks that efficiently protect the national interest and prevent sabotage.
"Even we're told that the incident that occurred in Tigray Regional State was done after the communications lines were cut off," Terrefe said.
PUBLISHED ON Nov 14,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1072]
Fortune News | Nov 29,2020
Fortune News | Apr 04,2020
Fortune News | Mar 02,2019
Radar | Feb 22,2020
Radar | Apr 03,2021
Radar | Aug 28,2021
Fortune News | Aug 01,2020
Fortune News | Oct 05,2019
Fortune News | May 15,2021
August 28 , 2021 . By HAWI DADHI
The streets of Addis Abeba are as varied as they are many, although too many of them have yet to be named. From the narrow alleyways of the...
August 7 , 2021
There are a few without an opinion on Ethiopia’s federal structure, which is arranged along lingo-cultu...
July 24 , 2021
There was an alarming increase in the price of Teffin August 2017. It suddenly skyrocketed from 2,000 Br...
June 26 , 2021 . By HAWI DADHI and SAMUEL BOGALE
This past Monday was the second time Belay Zerihun, a second-time voter, has had to stand in a long queue...
Leaders of the National Election Board are in a charm offensive mood, of a sort. Last week, they organised a rare tour for members of the me...
When the country’s most senior diplomats and envoys return back to their posts after two-week debriefings, they leave behind a point or tw...
October 9 , 2021
Public offices have been having a field day in the past few years. From the Prime Min...
October 2 , 2021
Ethiopia`s Parliament will pick up a Prime Minister on Monday, October 4, 2021. The i...
September 26 , 2021
There are two editions of The Economist on Africa influenced by the narrative on the...
September 18 , 2021
It could be customary to wish well for the holiday seasons. If only the New Year cele...
PM Abiy Ahmed (PhD) at a Gala Dinner Called for the Awarding of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize
May 6 , 2019
Ethiopia is experiencing a nationwide social crisis unlike any other the young genera...
We have all heard it said, “looks can be deceiving,” which is often used to refer to something that seems good on the outside but does n...
Or see contact page