Ethiopia Prepares for Partial Privatization of Ethio Telecom (The Africa Report)

A customer holds a 3G prepaid sim card after buying the service from an Ethio-Telecom shop in Addis Ababa, November 12, 2019. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

The Africa Report

As Ethiopia prepares for the partial privatisation of Ethio Telecom, the state telecoms monopoly has announced a 31.4% jump in revenues for the 2019/20 year.

Ethio Telecom CEO Frehiwot Tamiru told a press conference in late July that the telecoms company’s revenues had grown significantly, in large part due to network expansion and a 5.8% increase in its subscriber numbers.

At 46.2 million subscribers, the company now covers account nearly half of the country’s population.

Part of Ethiopia’s economic reform

The state monopoly’s privatization, part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s extensive economic reform programme, is underway as the Ethiopian government processes the dozen bids it received for a minority stake from multinationals and consortiums in June.

The deal, probably the most anticipated corporate restructuring on the continent, attracted bids from nine telecoms companies including MTN Group of South Africa, Saudi Telecom, Atisalat, Telkom SA, and a consortium of the Vodafone group which includes Kenya’s Safaricom, and its parent company, Vodacom of South Africa. It also includes two non-telecom operators.

Ethiopia plans to partially privatise the company by selling a stake to whoever wins the bidding process, as well as offering a small stake (reportedly 5%) to “the people”, as insiders told Reuters in May.

Groundwork laid

Already, at least two of the Big Four accounting firms are involved in laying the groundwork for the eventual deal. In June, the international consulting firm Deloitte & Touch was appointed transaction advisor, joining its peer KPMG’s East African subsidiary, which has been conducting an asset evaluation of the state monopoly.

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