The Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) once again extended the bidding deadline for two new operator licenses in response to requests for more time to finalise offers in light of Covid-19 market conditions.
In a brief statement made as its previous deadline (5 April) passed, the ECA said operators applying for one of the new licenses had been given until 10am on 26 April to submit applications.
“Due to requests by bidders to have more time to finalise their offer in light of Covid market environment, ECA determined their question to be appropriate and the deadline for submission of bids for the two new Telecom Operator Licences is extended,” the authority said.
The move further pushes back the introduction of competition to incumbent, and current monopoly, Ethio Telecom. Measures around the pandemic have already slowed the process, with the deadline for submissions at the latest stage already extended once.
Bidders will comprise some of the dozen companies to have made initial expressions of interest to authorities in June 2020. Among those vying for a licence were Orange, Etisalat, MTN Group, Saudi Telecom Company and a consortium comprising affiliates of Vodacom Group, Safaricom and Vodafone Group.
Although bullish statements have been made by a number of the contenders, last month a senior Ethiopian minister reportedly warned the country could walk away from the whole process if bidders failed to meet its valuation of the licenses.