A consortium led by Kenya’s Safaricom that includes Japan's Sumitomo, Vodacom, Vodafone and UK’s CDC Group, has recently paid $850 million to purchase Ethiopia’s telecommunications licence, the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA), the country’s telecoms regulator, said last week.

The move is set to create nearly 1.5 million new jobs and bring $8.5 billion in investment over 10 years, according to reports from the capital Addis-Ababa.

Reports also said that South Africa’s MTN’s $600 million bid for the licence dismay failed because it was not good enough. Until the granting of the licence, Ethiopia remained one of the few countries in Africa, where the telecommunications sector was still monopolised by the state.

In February this year, the World Bank said opening the market to private sector competition and foreign investment would bring lower prices, higher quality of service and more choice for consumers.

“It will also lay the foundations for Ethiopia’s future digital transformation,” Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director for Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan, said.

Dione pointed out that the World Bank was invited by the Ethiopian government to support the process of market reform.

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