May 21, 2020 / 12:19 PM / 16 days ago

UPDATE 1-Ethiopia to issue two new telecom operator licences - regulator

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By Dawit Endeshaw

ADDIS ABABA, May 21 (Reuters) - Ethiopia’s communications regulator said on Thursday the country would proceed with the privatisation of the telecommunications sector despite the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Ethiopian Communications Authority said it had issued requests for expressions of interest for two telecom licences to be awarded to multinational mobile companies, breaking the state monopoly.

The issuing of licences will open up one of the world’s last major closed telecoms markets in the country of around 110 million.

“The sector liberalisation process is continuing amid the COVID-19 crisis which shows the government’s strong will to fight the pandemic while keeping track of the ongoing economic reforms,” the regulator said in a statement.

It said the licences would be awarded through a “competitive bidding process,” but did not give a deadline for the allocation of the licences.

It added it had hired the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) as transaction adviser.

So far, Ethiopia has recorded 389 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and five deaths, out of 69,507 tests done so far. (Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw, Editing by Giulia Paravicini, George Obulutsa and Mark Potter)

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