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China’s Ethiopian ambitions suffer setback with telecoms decision

China’s Ethiopian ambitions suffer setback with telecoms decision

  • The African country’s drive to open up its telecoms market saw a US-backed international consortium beating a Chinese-supported bid for a mobile licence
  • Ethiopia says it does not want to become a forum for a ‘proxy war’ between the two powers and is open to everyone for business
The launch of Ethio-Telecom’s mobile money service Tele-Birr, which was developed by Huawei. Photo: Xinhua

(Scmp)—Ethiopia’s recent decision to open its telecoms market saw a Chinese-backed bid for a mobile licence lose out to a consortium that had US support, but the east African country is likely to remain an important market for Chinese companies.

Last weekend, a consortium backed by the US International Development Finance Corporation and UK sovereign investment fund CDC Group and led by Britain’s Vodafone, Kenya’s Safaricom, South Africa’s Vodacom and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation won the deal after bidding US$850 million to secure a 15-year licence in Africa’s second biggest country.

The companies plan to invest more than US$8 billion over the next decade, making it the single largest foreign direct investment in Ethiopia to date, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said.

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