CORRECTED-Ethio Telecom appoints evaluator for assets, seeks advisor for privatisation

(Corrects SEPT 26 story to show KPMG hired to evaluate assets, not as privatisation advisor, paragraph 1)

ADDIS ABABA, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Ethio Telecom has appointed international consulting firm KPMG to evaluate its assets, and an advisor on the privatisation process will be appointed soon, a senior finance ministry official said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office last year and announced a series of major economic and political reforms. He pledged to open the largely state-run economy to private investment, and is moving most quickly in the telecoms sector.

State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign Tolina said the government had also issued an expression of interest for a transaction advisor to help it issue licences for other operators who would enter the telecoms sector.

The government said in July it will award two telecoms licences 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 liberalise 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)