MTN Group CEO, Ralph Mupita has revealed that the telco would consider bidding for the second Ethiopian operating licence after initially losing to Safaricom.
“We took an approach that the opportunity, as strategic as it was, needed to meet our capital allocation framework and the hurdles that we saw given the licence conditions. We were particularly focused on the lack of mobile money in the licencing regime, and there were some issues around how the telco constructs would be accommodated within Ethiopia. We certainly priced for those things and near-term risks that we saw, and we felt that the financial bid there was appropriate.”
He says that although it was disappointing that they did not win the initial bid, they may take another shot at it.
“There are views that the Ethiopian authorities will reissue the licence with mobile money, and if they do that in a relatively short period of time, we will apply our minds on the issue, we have not made a firm decision on that,” adds Ralph Mupita.
Safaricom, alongside parent company Vodafone, has been awarded one operating licence by Ethiopia’s telecommunications regulator. The telco is expected to pay $850 million for the licence.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says “The Council of Ministers has unanimously made a historic decision today allowing Ethiopian Communications Authority to grant a new nationwide telecom license to the Global Partnership for Ethiopia which offered the highest licensing fee and a very solid investment case.”
According to Reuters, the consortium – led by Safaricom – plans to invest up to $8.5 billion in infrastructure as well as create up to one and a half million jobs.
Ahmed adds, “with over $8 billion total investment, this will be the single largest FDI into Ethiopia to date. Our desire to take Ethiopia fully digital is on track. I would like to thank all that have taken part in this and for pulling off a very transparent and effective process.”
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