Ethiopia’s ambassador to Paris has confirmed over twitter that Orange has “formally submitted interest” in participating in the partial privatisation of Ethio Telecom

Ever since Ethiopia announced that it would begin liberalising its telecoms industry, almost two years ago, France’s Orange has shown considerable interest in making a play for the Ethiopian market. 

When the Ethiopian regulator announced that it would be making two new telco licences available for new market entrants, Orange was alongside the likes of MTN, Safaricom, and Etisalat in declaring early interest in securing one of these golden tickets. Orange already operates in over a dozen African markets and Ethiopia, with its enormous population and minimal competition, was viewed as a highly lucrative proposition by the operator.

However, ongoing political unrest in Ethiopia as well as limitations to the launch of mobile financial services saw these ambitions dimmed. When it came time to bid for the two licences, only two contestants remained: a consortium led by Safaricom, which paid $800 million for the licence, and MTN, whose offer of $600 million was rejected as too low by the regulator. 

As a result, the regulator planned to retender the second licence, potentially giving Orange another shot to become the third mobile operator in Ethiopia.

But these new operating licences were not the only part of liberalisation process for Ethiopia’s telecoms sector. The government also announced plans for the sale of a 40% in the incumbent operator, Ethio Telecom, the tender process for which began last month.

Now,  Ethiopia’s ambassador to Paris, Henok Teferra Shawl, has Tweeted confirmation that Orange has formally registered its interest in participating in the tender process. 


Ethio Telecom has been doing well in the last year, recently reporting an increase in full-year revenue of 18.4%. Subscriber count was increased by 22% to 56.2 million and their newly launched mobile money service, Telebirr, continues to be a success, attracting 6.58 million customers since its commercialisation in May.


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