A small notice with big significance was issued with little fanfare just before what was a lengthy Christmas break in many countries as the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) decided to call a halt to plans to award another new communications licence.
As the ECA itself pointed out in the Public Notice on Suspension of RFP Process that appeared on 22 December, it had issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the second new full service nationwide telecommunications service license on 28 September 2021 and the bidding process was ongoing.
In fact as we reported at the time, the second licence was due to be issued in January 2022. Proposals, according to the ECA, had to be delivered by 20 December 2021.
The response was clearly not quite the one expected. The ECA says it received “concerns and requests from several prospective bidders to delay the process and issue the RFP at a convenient time in the future”. The Authority says it fully concurred with this feedback.
What these concerns were has not been made clear. However, in November we noted that, given the ongoing armed conflict, there might be questions marks over whether the new licence award could go ahead on time. That said, the other licence winner, Safaricom, was moving ahead with its launch plans as recently as 20 December.
The Ethiopian Communications Authority says it has suspended the RFP process for the new second license and will relaunch the process in the near future. This will be the third attempt to sell the new second licence as no satisfactory bid was received on the first occasion back in May 2021.