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Ethiopia to sell 40 percent of state-owned Ethio Telecom

Expression of interest forms for 40 percent of shared in the state owned Ethio-Telecom will be up for a month 

Ethio Telecom Privatization
Photo : SM

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Ethiopia’s Public Enterprises Holding and Administration Agency, which was established soon after Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018,   on Monday announced that 40 percent of the giant state-owned telecom, Ethio Telecom, is up for sale. 

The Agency, which oversees public enterprises and is accountable to the Ministry of Finance, said that it has made preparations to transfer 40 percent of Ethio Telecom to the private sector. 

Deputy Director of the Agency, Zinabu Yirga, said an expression of Interest form will be available ( on the website of the agency) as of Tuesday this week. It will be available for one month, and the agency has invited local and expatriate investors to participate. 

Furthermore, the agency announced, as reported by DW Amharic service, that it has hired a consultancy firm to help in the privatization of one of Ethiopia’s National assets – Ethio Telecom. It is unclear if the consultancy firm is an expatriate one. 

Ethio Telecom is one of Ethiopia’s most profitable public enterprises, next to Ethiopian Airlines. Last month, the company started a mobile money business and has got nearly four million subscribers in a matter of weeks. The company has over 45 million subscribers across Ethiopia. 

Privatization of key national assets of Ethiopia and liberalization are the key components of Abiy Ahmed’s economic reform agenda, which he introduced soon after taking office in April 2018. 

Prominent economists have been opposing  the privatization of key national assets including Ethiopian Airlines, Ethio Telecom and Ethiopian Shipping line. 

In what seems to be  a response to the criticism, Abiy Ahmed established a twenty-one members privatization advisory council in August 2018. Some members do seem to have little or no experience related to the privatization. 

This month, his government issued a telecom licensing to a consortium of four telecom operators under the leadership of Safaricom, Kenya’s biggest provider, at a cost of $850 million. The government is poised to sell one more license for telecom operators, but the schedule is undisclosed at this point in time. 

There were also reports that Abiy Ahmed’s government had plans to sell a portion of Ethiopian Airlines, and that the Americans had expressed interest. There was even a time when U.S. businessmen visited Ethiopia after Abiy Ahmed took power. 

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