Ethiopia has failed to attract any bidders for a third telecoms operator license.

Concerns around conflict in the country led to a lack of interest, Bloomberg reported this week.

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The process is likely to be put on hold, according to sources who spoke to the publication.

There are concerns around several regions across Ethiopia, which emerged from a civil war last year, despite the signing of a cease-fire deal between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front last month.

Ethiopia's government launched a tender for a new private telecoms license in July.

It was launched as part of the government's strategy to attract a second privately-owned mobile operator to the market following Safaricom's entrance into the market last year. Ethio Telecom is the state-owned incumbent.

Ethiopia's telecoms industry is seen as a huge component of Ahmed's push to drive the country's economy, which is the second-largest in Africa after Nigeria, with a population of more than 120 million.

Following Safaricom, it was expected that South African telco MTN Group would be next to enter the market, but the operator saw its bid for a license rejected in 2021 and walked away from the process.

Since Safaricom became the first private investor in the country's telecoms market, the operator has grown its mobile subscriber base to more than five million.

This figure is still some way off state-owned Ethio Telecom, which passed 70 million subscribers earlier this year. Founded in 1951 as a division of the Ministry of Post, Telephone, and Telegraph, the company enjoyed a monopoly on the telecoms market for more than 70 years.