Consortium led by Safaricom appoints MD of new Ethiopian unit

NAIROBI, July 5 (Reuters) – A consortium led by Kenyan telecoms operator Safaricom SCOM.NR has appointed Anwar Soussa as managing director of its Ethiopian unit, which is scheduled to start operations next year, Safaricom Chief Executive Peter Ndegwa said on Monday.

The consortium, which includes South Africa’s Vodacom VODJ.J and Britain’s Vodafone VOD.L, won an operating licence with a bid of $850 million in May to set up a telecom firm in Africa’s second most populous nation.

Ethiopia, one of the world’s last major closed telecoms markets, is opening up its telecoms sector and hopes it will create millions of online job opportunities. Apart from the licence issuance, it plans to sell a 45% stake in state-run mobile operator Ethio Telecom.

The Safaricom consortium plans to invest up to $8.5 billion in the country’s infrastructure and other areas.

"Anwar will lead the Ethiopian Operating Company on behalf of the Global Partnership for Ethiopia Consortium," Ndegwa said in a statement.

Soussa, a Greek national, has been the Managing Director of Vodacom in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chairperson of the mobile unit Vodacash since 2017, Ndegwa said.

Before joining Vodacom, Soussa was the Chief Executive Officer of Airtel in Uganda and Chad and had also worked for South Africa’s telecom firm MTN. In his new position, Soussa will report to the board of the Ethiopia outfit and Safaricom’s CEO.

Other partners in the consortium are British development finance agency CDC Group and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation 8053.T.

(Reporting by Duncan Miriri; writing by Omar Mohammed; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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