The African telecommunications giant MTN Group has confirmed yesterday’s news that it is involved in a bid for a telecoms licence in Ethiopia.
Africa’s second most-populous country, as we are often reminded, represents one of the last telecommunication liberalisation opportunities in the world, and certainly the largest.
MTN has also confirmed that it is participating with equity partners, although only one, the Silk Road Fund, a Chinese state-owned investment fund, has been confirmed. Other partners will be disclosed on a successful bid outcome, the company has said.
MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita was quoted as saying, “Ethiopia provides the largest telecommunication and digital services growth opportunity in Africa over the medium term and fits into our pan-Africa focus and platform strategy. We are being guided by our capital allocation framework in our assessment of this opportunity.”
He also suggested that MTN’s participation is aligned with the company’s, Ambition 2025 strategy, focusing on capturing growth from digital acceleration across the continent. Ambition 2025, is, we are told, anchored in building the largest and most valuable platform business with a clear focus on Africa.
The Ethiopian licence award, if MTN wins it, will greatly expand an already impressive MTN subscriber base. At the end of 2020, MTN Group had 280 million subscribers across 21 markets.
As our report yesterday indicated, MTN may not have long to wait to find out whether it will be able to offer services in Ethiopia. A senior advisor at the Ethiopian finance ministry believes it should not take more than a week for the winners of the two operating licences on offer to be announced.