MTN to bid in second Ethiopia telecom license round

South Africa’s MTN Group will bid again for an Ethiopia operating telecom license in the second round if mobile financial services are included.

Mobile financial services are key to MTN’s strategy as it continues to evolve from just providing voice to also providing data, digital services and mobile payment and lending solutions as demand for these services rise.

The Group CEO of MTN, Ralph Mupita, said, “For us it will really be important to see mobile money in that opportunity to put forward a bid and if it’s not there then probably we wouldn’t even bid.”

If license conditions in the second round remain the same, it might not bid at a higher amount, he said.

Last month Ethiopia’s telecommunications regulator announced that it had awarded one operating licenses to a consortium led by Kenya’s Safaricom, Vodafone, and Japan’s Sumitomo.

The consortium, which includes Vodacom and British development finance agency CDC Group, paid $850 million for the licenses, while MTN’s offer of $600 million was deemed too low.

“We really wanted to have seen mobile money in the license regime, so we adjusted our bid for the lack of mobile money,” Mupita said.