Orange Submits Interest for Stake in Ethio Telecom

Sourced from MSNBC.

French telecom firm Orange has submitted an expression of interest to participate in the ongoing partial privatisation of Ethiopia’s Ethio Telecom. This is according to Ethiopia’s ambassador to Paris, sharing the news on Twitter.

Henok Teferra Shawl said in the tweet that Orange had “formally submitted interest to participate in the partial privatisation of Ethio Telecom.”

Saying that discussions with Orange had been fruitful, the ambassador continued that Ethiopia’s “fast-growing economy & income of [its 100-million plus population] remains very attractive to foreign investors.”

Last month, Ethiopia’s government launched a tendering process for the proposed sell-off of a 40% stake in the state-owned Ethio Telecom to private investors – a proposal that fits in part with the country’s plan to open the country’s economy and reduce its state-powered monopolies.

Reuters reports that Ethio Telecom saw an 18.4% rise in full-year revenue to end-June to 56.5-billion Birr ($1.29 billion).

Safaricom Consortium Hits Snag in Ethiopia Plans

In May, authorities in Ethiopia handed out the country’s first private operator license to a consortium led by Kenya’s Safaricom, British Vodafone and Japanese Sumitomo.

Safaricom alone is to pay an expected $850-million for the operating license.

However, the recent armed conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region may throw an unwanted curb into the consortium’s plans in the country.

The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) says that acts of violence against civilians in Tigray could affect the release of $500-million in loans to the consortium. If the conflict deepens, it could push the DFC to forgo the investments altogether and pressure the telecoms in the consortium to seek money from elsewhere in order to finance operations in Ethiopia.

DFC’s financing of the consortium had previously been thrown into doubt over US economic sanctions against Ethiopia related to the ongoing conflict in Tigray, which has killed thousands of people and displaced even more.

The current conflict is between the Ethiopian military, its allies from Amhara and neighbouring Eritrea against armed forces from Tigray. Despite this, the group is aiming to start operations in Ethiopia next year.

By Luis Monzon
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