Safaricom plans joint bid with Vodacom for Ethiopia licence

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Kenya’s largest telecoms operator Safaricom is planning a joint bid with South Africa’s Vodacom for one of two Ethiopian telecoms licences that will be offered next year, its acting chief executive has confirmed.

Michael Joseph said the company, partly owned by Vodacom and Britain’s Vodafone, had not made up its mind about another option of entering the lucrative Ethiopian market through partial privatisation of state monopoly Ethio Telecom.

Firms which want to secure the licences have to come with deep pockets, Joseph said, citing the expected cost of acquiring the spectrum.

“You have to bid for the spectrum. There is talk about it and it is in the billion-dollar range, just for the licence,” he said in a statement after the firm released its first-half results.

Safaricom has been given the go-ahead by the Ethiopian government to either buy a stake in the named telco that is up for sale or starting operations as a new company. Safaricom is also pursuing the necessary licenses and documentation required for activity.

Not much has been given about the development because everything is still in the early stages.

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