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Ethiopia to Reopen Bidding for Its Second Telecoms Operator Licence

The Horn-of-Africa nation sold only one of two full-service licences on offer in May, citing a lower-than-expected price for the second one, which it now wants to offer again. A consortium led by Kenya’s top operator, Safaricom (SCOM.NR), secured the first licence. South Africa’s MTN (MTNJ.J) had also bid in the first round but it was not awarded a licence. Safaricom’s winning bid of $850 million could serve as a guide for the price of the remaining licence. State monopoly Ethio Telecom, which launched a new mobile financial service called Telebirr in May, snagged 4 million users within weeks, showing the potential of the market. A separate sale of a 40% stake in Ethio is going on, part of a drive to liberalise the sector and also open up the broader economy.