A Liberalized Telecommunications Sector for Ethiopia: the Regulatory Frame work and Its Prospect

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Addis Ababa


Information and communication Technology (ICT) is bringing the big world into a s mall place, by allowing eas y information flow, knowledge transfer and thereby fa cilitating busine s s relations and social interactions. ICT,if not has more importance than it has in developed countries ,it isequally needed in d eveloping countries to facilitate economic developme nt and alle viate poverty.To realize the mentioned benefits telecommunication industry, which is the main integral part of ICT. should be developed and made efficient. To bring effici ency in the te lecommunication sector, private ownership and competitive market on the s ector are becoming the better choice than government monopoly. Since the last twe nty years, as a result of technological advance ment on telecom indus try, which was cons idered as a natural monopoly for its huge investment require me nt and security reasons, is being opened to private owners hip and competition. Liberalization and privatization are taking place worldwide. In Ethiopia, telecommunication s ervice was started as early as 100 years ago. Howe ver, the de velopment on the sector in 100 years was minimal compared to other sub Saharan African countries . Telecommunication infrastructure is not expanded to most parts of the country. The state owned enterprise, Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC),whic hcurrently provides telecommunications is being blamed for its inefficiency and low te le-density in the country. Besides , the digital gap between the rural population and remote areas on one hand and urban population and nearby cities on the other is also wide. Despite the green light give n by the available investment lay domestic private sector in the te lecom bus iness, governme nt expressed its intention to continue its monopoly. The current regulatory body is weak and not playing its regulatory role to facilitate a competitive e nvironment. The writer recomme nds that a competitive environme nt should be created for the telecommunication sector of Ethiopia, through liberalization. Among telecommunications service s , a t least mobile telephony, internet service and other value-added s e rvice s should be allowed for private parties, to provide the s ame in competition with the incumbent, ETC.