ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia has appointed a transaction adviser in the privatization process for state-run Ethio Telecom, and another adviser will be selected in coming weeks to oversee licensing in the telecoms sector, a senior finance ministry official said.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office last year and announced a series of major economic and political reforms. Of all the pledged steps to open up the economy to private investment, Abiy’s government is moving the fastest on the telecoms sector.
State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign Tolina said that Ethio Telecom had appointed international consulting firm KPMG to help with a process aimed at selling off stakes in the telecom.
Eyob said the government had also issued an expression of interest for a transaction advisor to help guide it with issuing licenses for other operators who would enter the telecoms sector.
The government said in July it will award two telecoms licenses to multinational mobile companies, in the first detailed announcement of the government’s plans for opening one of the world’s last major closed telecom markets.
The government will also offer a minority stake in Ethio Telecom, the monopoly operator, and foreign firms will be invited to bid.
Eyob said it was too early to say what percentage of the state-run telecom will be sold off.
Ethiopia’s telecoms industry is considered the big prize in a push to liberalize the country’s economy because of its huge protected market serving a population of around 100 million.
Officials have told Reuters that this is because the government believes that the sector will boost growth in other parts of the economy.
Reporting by Giulia Paravicini; writing by George Obulutsa; editing by Jason Neely and Chizu Nomiyama