The telecom liberalisation process has run into another stumbling block as the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) announced early last week its decision to extend the bid submission deadline by three weeks. The Authority attributed the decision to push the deadline to April 26, 2021, to requests from potential bidders seeking to buy two telecom operating licenses. When issued, these licenses will end an over-a-century-old state monopoly in the telecommunications sector and open up one of the world’s last remaining telecoms markets under the state's hold. According to a statement it issued last week, the Authority believes the requests were appropriate "in light of the COVID market environment." It is the second extension by the Authority made since February this year, due to similar requests from interested parties. The Authority initiated the bidding process for two full-service telecom licenses last May and announced a call for an expression of interest (EOI). It attracted the attention of 11 companies, including Global Partnership for Ethiopia, a consortium of Vodafone, Vodacom and Safaricom; MTN; Etisalat; Orange; and Saudi Telecom Company. Meanwhile, Ethio telecom, currently the industry's sole operator, is gearing up to launch its own mobile money service after having secured a license to branch out of its core services for the first time in over a century of operation.
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