Ethiopia: the first 5G license awarded to the Safricom-Vodacom consortium

After officially ending more than two decades of state monopoly and opening up the telecoms sector to competition on June 10, 2019, Ethiopia on Saturday awarded a license for the deployment of 4G and 5G internet. to a British-Kenyan consortium. They are the Kenyan Safricom and the South African Vodacom, a subsidiary of the British giant Vodafone for a license worth 850 million dollars with an investment of 8.5 billion dollars over the next ten years.

This very first license was awarded at the expense of the consortium led by the South African giant MTN, supported by the Chinese giant Huawei and ZTE, themselves supported by Chinese financiers and Beijing in order to be selected for deploy 4G and 5G infrastructures, while the consortium led by Vodafone which has been selected is supported by Washington, which should do the business of equipment manufacturers Ericsson, Nokia or Samsung. In short, a real lobbying battle in the background around 5G, which Washington and Beijing are already waging in Europe, is transported to the continent by interposed operators and equipment manufacturers.

This vast program of liberalization of the telecommunications sector in Ethiopia is expected to continue with the allocation of other licenses that would allow the national telecommunications company, Ethio Telecom to open its capital to other groups of private operators with the the whole investment package that goes with it. The privatization of a sector that was previously a state monopoly is expected to accelerate the growth of mobile and internet access in Ethiopia, which has a potential market of 100 million people.

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