Ethiopia is pushing ahead with plans to sell two new telecommunications licences following delays due to the coronavirus outbreak and postponed elections.

Almost two years after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced a plan to open up the market, the government on Thursday opened a month-long window for potential buyers to submit expressions of interest, with the International Finance Corp as advisor.

Africa’s second most populous country is one of the final frontiers for telecoms investors, and carriers such as Orange, MTN Group and Vodacom Group are among those eyeing the opportunity. It will be a “competitive bidding process”, according to an e-mailed statement from the Ethiopian Communication Authority.

Last month, the ECA published the first three of a dozen draft directives to guide operations in the sector including dispute resolution. Ethiopia’s initial plans to issue licences by March 2020 were disrupted by the decision to hold elections on 29 August, which the government later postponed indefinitely due to the virus outbreak.

Abiy’s administration wants to offer two new licences and sell part of the state-controlled monopoly, Ethio Telecom, to help liberalise the economy and attract more foreign capital. Consultancy firm KPMG completed a valuation of the company, now under review by the board.  — Reported by Samuel Gebre, (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP