Ethiopia is opening the state-owned telecommunications company and airline to foreign investors for the first time, a move that indicates new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is more receptive to outside interests in Africaâ€™s second-most populous nation.
According to Bloomberg, Ethiopia will sell minority stakes to foreign and domestic investors in state monopolies such Ethio Telecom and Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise, the continentâ€™s biggest airline, as well as Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprise, the state-run Ethiopian News Agency said lateÂ Tuesday, citing the ruling Ethiopian Peopleâ€™s Revolutionary Democratic Front.
â€œForeigners with knowledge and foreign capital can play a critical role in our growth,â€ it said.
The East African country of more than 100 million people has long been a target of the biggest phone companies in Africa, includingÂ MTN Group Ltd.Â and Vodacom Group Ltd., the largest by sales and market value respectively. The government has until now been strict about keeping the industries in-house, but there are signs itâ€™s opening up to the world since Abiyâ€™s rise to power earlier this year.
The move hints at Abiyâ€™s intent for the nation ranked by the International Monetary Fund as Africaâ€™s fastest-growing economy. Heâ€™s already reduced the role of Ethiopiaâ€™s military in construction and similar projects, and lifted a state of emergency introduced after former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn quit in February.
Ethiopian Airlines has turned the nationâ€™s capital, Addis Ababa, into Africaâ€™s equivalent of the Persian Gulf hubs, linking almost 70 global cities with almost 60 across the continent. Itâ€™s also planning to take equity stakes in new operators in Zambia, Chad, Mozambique and Guinea.
AlsoÂ on Tuesday, Ethiopia agreed to implement a peace deal signed at the turn of the century with Eritrea after Abiy undertook two months ago to normalise relations with its neighbouring long-time foe. The deal was originally signed in 2000 to end a two-year border war that killed thousands of people.