US$2bn Ethiopian infrastructure struggle plays out over the airwaves
Contradictory statements on reform process hint at clash between supporters and opponents of outside towerco investment
Reports through the summer painted a contradictory picture of the reform process in Ethiopia. At the end of June, the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) announced it had received eleven valid expressions of interest in the two new mobile network licences and had consulted extensively on the entrance of independent towercos to support network roll-out. By August the tone of reporting had changed significantly, with Ethio Telecom’s CEO Frehiwot Tamru saying publicly that towercos would not be welcome in the market, there were even rumours that the licence process would no longer be a competitive process. Comments by the Ethiopian Communications Authority’s Director General Balcha Reba have since clarified matters, and may point to a return to normalcy for the process.