The government has allocated spectrum and set coverage targets for the new operators, which will be revealed soon

Ethiopia’s telecoms monopoly is finally coming to its end, with the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed targetting February 2021 for the final steps of opening the national telecoms market to the world 


Ahmed, who became PM in 2018, has long been driving for market liberalisation, a process which he believes will help boost the economy and modernise Ethiopia. However, the process has seen numerous delays throughout the year, both due to the logistics of the pandemic and internal bickering from current incumbent Ethio Telecom.


Now, however, reports are suggesting that PM Ahmed has approved plans for the regulators to allocate spectrum to the new entrants, who are expected to be named in the coming days.


Ethio Telecom is set to receive a 10 MHz block in the 900 MHz spectrum band, while retaining 15 MHz and 35 MHz, in the 900 MHz and 1.8 GHz bands, respectively. Meanwhile, the two new entrants will be given 10 MHz blocks in the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands, and 20 MHz in the 1.8 GHz band. Finally, all three will receive 20 MHz in the 2.1 GHz band and 20 MHz in the 2.6 GHz band.


The conditions for the spectrum allocation have also been made clear: entrants much pledge to reach 25% population coverage within one year, 40% within two years, 55% within three years, and finally 97% after 15 years. Additional stipulations reportedly also include providing free services to non-profit organisations in the public interest.


Ethiopia is viewed as a goldmine for many telcos, with a huge population and great potential for market growth. As such, plans to liberalise the telecoms market has led to much interest from players around the world, including MTN, Orange, STC, and a Vodafone Group-led consortium.


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