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MTN still keen for Ethiopian expansion

MTN still keen for Ethiopian expansion

MTN CEO Rob Shuter has reaffirmed the group’s intention to establish itself as a heavyweight in new African markets, including Ethiopia.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Shuter noted that there were “large markets that are underpenetrated” in the continent, and noted Ethiopia was “one where we would be really excited to participate, in some way.”

In 2018 the government of Ethiopia began a programme of reform, allowing foreign firms to acquire minority holdings in state-owned Ethio Telecom, which has long had a monopoly in the market. The move was aimed at bolstering Ethiopia’s ranking by the IMF as Africa’s fastest-growing economy.

At the time, MTN – along with its rival Vodacom - was quick to affirm its interest in investing in Ethiopia, describing the market as “a natural fit” for its portfolio. MTN’s expansion strategy is focused on building itself up as a major operator in new markets then expanding its offering via mobile finance and enterprise.

However, it is also narrowing its focus somewhat, and recently divested stakes in travel platform Travelstart and investment fund Amadeus. It is also pulling out of markets, including Cyprus and Botswana.

Shuter noted that while MTN would continue to focus on Africa, it was already in most of the continent’s more prosperous markets, saying: “There are not many opportunities for MTN to increase its scale in Africa because we are already in the two largest, a lot of the medium and some of the smaller markets.”

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