Ethiopia has launched a fresh tender to issue a second private telecoms license as part of efforts to drive competition in its mobile market.

The Ethiopian government launched the tender last week, aiming to attract a second privately-owned mobile operator to the market following Safaricom's entrance into the market in October. Ethio Telecom is the state-owned incumbent.

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Ethiopia's telecoms industry is seen as a huge asset in Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's push to drive the country's economy, with the nation boasting a population of over 120 million.

"There are several positive developments occurring in the Ethiopian telecommunications sector since the beginning of the liberalization process," the Ethiopian Communications Authority said in a request for qualifications (RFQ) notice per Reuters.

Safaricom won the license back in 2021. It was expected that 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 Kenyan-based Safaricom became the first private investor in the country's telecoms market, the operator has grown its mobile subscriber base to nearly three million.

This figure is still some way off the incumbent 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.

Ethio is also open to investment to private companies both international and domestic after the government opened up a bidding process for investors last year for a 40 percent stake.