In early January the US International Development Finance Corporation (IFC) gave the green light for a loan to support Vodafone in its bid to acquire a telecoms licence.
Ethiopia is most of the way through liberalising its telecoms market, which until now has been a monopoly in the hands of state-owned Ethio Telecom..
Back in early December, British telecommunications multinational, Vodafone nonetheless managed to persuade the IFC to grant it “an up to $500m loan” as part of its bid to land one of the two licenses to be awarded. The company leads the Global Partnership for Ethiopia consortium, which includes its subsidiaries Vodacom and Safaricom.
The DFC has explained that its loan to the consortium is long-term financing on favourable terms maturing between five and 25 years “We are making an up to $500 million loan to the Vodafone-led Global Partnership for Ethiopia that will finance the design, development, and operation of a new private mobile network provider and the acquisition of a mobile network provider license. The project is expected to have a highly developmental impact through the creation of a new private telecommunications network that will increase connectivity in Ethiopia while utilizing trusted technology.” IFC says in their statement
The liberalization of Ethiopia’s telecoms sector has been delayed numerous times. Initially slated to take off in March 2020, the project was indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the conflict which broke out in the Tigray region. However, things are looking up as the Ethiopian Communications Agency announced in November that it will accept applications for the award of the two telecoms licenses through 5 March 2021.