Safaricom has placed a bid for one of the two telecommunications licences up for grabs in Ethiopia.
Last month, Ethiopia’s Communication Authority invited international firms to bid for the two available licences.
Kenyan giant Telco, Safaricom, has been eyeing Ethiopia for a while now, and they just announced that they had submitted their expression of interest, hoping that the selection process for companies to set up in Ethiopia will be complete by 2021.
Safaricom Chief Executive, Peter Ndegwa, however noted that the decision by the Ethiopian government could be delayed due to complications brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Ethiopia is probably one of the few remaining market opportunities for telcos. The country has said it will offer telecommunication licences for sale soon and has already asked for expressions of interest,” Mr Ndegwa said.
“Safaricom, together with other partners, has expressed interest and we will give an update at some point on the progress,” he added.
The Ethiopian telecommunications market, which had till now been closed by the State, is being opened up for foreign firms.
Ethiopia’s huge population of over 100 million people is a huge attraction to big firms like Safaricom owing to the large market prospects- currently served by the State-owned Ethio Telecom.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has opened up the telecommunication’s market as part of the efforts put in place to liberalize the economy.
Peter Ndegwa, who joined Safaricom on April 1 this year, was before his appointment, in charge of Diageo’s operations in continental Europe. He will oversee the next phase of Safaricom’s growth, which he said would focus heavily on innovations and solutions that solve local problems.
“M-Pesa has been successful, and we are looking at what can be the next M-Pesa. What should we do in education, health or agriculture,” Ndegwa said.
“We have units like Digi Farm to support small farmers and M-Tiba. How can we scale those up so that in five years, they could be your next M-Pesa.”
Ndegwa has stood up to the immediate task of steering the telco at this time when the Kenyan economy is facing unforeseen challenges occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He noted that he will focus on supporting start-ups during the pandemic, as some provide solutions with the potential to get the economy back on its feet.