A Vodafone-led group won a contract to build a nationwide, 5G-capable wireless network in Ethiopia. PHOTO: EDUARDO SOTERAS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
A U.S.-backed consortium beat a Chinese-backed one for a multibillion-dollar contract to build Ethiopia’s 5G-capable network
The wall street journal – A U.S.-backed consortium beat out one financed by China in a closely watched telecommunications auction in Ethiopia—handing Washington a victory in its push to challenge Beijing’s economic influence around the world.
The East African country said Saturday it tapped a group of telecommunications companies led by the U.K.’s Vodafone Group PLC to build a nationwide, 5G-capable wireless network. The group had won financial backing for the multibillion-dollar project from a newly created U.S. foreign-aid agency.
The agency offers low-interest loans, but the financing comes with a condition: The money won’t be used to buy telecom equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. Washington considers both a spying threat, an accusation the companies deny.
The losing bidder was South Africa’s MTN Group Ltd. , whose proposal was financed in part by a Chinese investor.
The telecom license auction in Ethiopia took on wider geopolitical significance amid heightened competition between the U.S. and China over key technological pursuits, from the rollout of 5G to chip manufacturing.
“The U.S. and China are fighting a proxy war in Ethiopia for influence,” said Zemedeneh Negatu, chairman of Fairfax Africa Fund LLC, a U.S.-based investment firm that focuses on Africa.Related stories IMF members agree to clear Sudan’s debt arrearsPowered by Inline Related Posts
After all but shutting out Huawei in the U.S., Washington has become more assertive about challenging Beijing’s economic footprint overseas. It is using new financial tools to win influence and ensure that strategic assets in foreign countries stay in friendly hands.
Johannesburg-based MTN, the continent’s largest telecommunications company and a longtime customer of Huawei and ZTE, said it made its bid in partnership with China’s Silk Road Fund, which has investments from Beijing’s China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China.
Backing the Vodafone bid was the International Development Finance Corp., or DFC. The U.S. government-funded agency was created in December 2019 with a goal of offering alternatives to cheap Chinese financing for foreign infrastructure projects.
Ethiopia’s government, which wants foreign investment and competition to improve its often-patchy cellular service, had the option of accepting both bids, only one or none. “This marks the beginning of a new era in our country,” the Ethiopian Communications Authority tweeted Saturday after announcing the winning bidder.
The DFC in late 2020 approved offering up to $500 million in U.S. loans if the Vodafone-led group won the bid. It isn’t obligated to move forward with the transaction, however. The U.S. has separately been pressing Addis Ababa to let humanitarian groups access Ethiopia’s Tigray region, where a violent conflict has led to what the U.S. calls ethnic cleansing.Related stories Macron hosts African leaders after extending $5 billion debt relief to SudanPowered by Inline Related Posts
Ethiopia late last year sent in federal troops, accusing the dominant political party there of trying to divide the country. A representative for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The DFC said Friday, before the auction results, that it is working closely with other U.S. government agencies to monitor the situation in Tigray and “will carefully consider its impact on any potential financing of the Vodafone consortium.”
Should the financing go ahead, the U.S. loans would carry interest rates well below those of commercial banks. The idea is to help the carrier buy equipment from non-Chinese suppliers, such as Ericsson AB, Nokia Corp. or Samsung Electronics Co. Their equipment is often more expensive than Huawei or ZTE hardware, according to wireless executives and U.S. officials.
U.S. law also prohibits its loan from being used to buy Huawei or ZTE equipment, though one person familiar with the matter said it is possible the Vodafone-led bid could still buy some Chinese gear because of the project’s size and cost.
In the past two decades, Ethiopia has developed commercial bonds with Beijing, signing loan agreements with Chinese lenders that total $13.7 billion between 2000 and 2018, according to the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University. About $3 billion of that went to telecom-infrastructure projects with ZTE and Huawei.
Ethiopia, meanwhile, is also an important U.S. strategic ally because of its location near the Red Sea, on the Horn of Africa. The U.S. has tried to neutralize terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and Islamic State, in the region.
U.S.-CHINA BATTLE FOR ECONOMIC INFLUENCE
- ለትግራይ ጄኔራሎች- “አይ” ካላችሁ ግን ውርድ ከራሴ ብያለሁየምትከተሉት የውጊያ ስልት ያረጀና ያፈጀ ነው። የመጨረሻ ውጤቱም ትግራይን ትውልድ አልባ የሚያደርግ ነው። ለዚህ ማስረጃው ደግሞ አፋር ላይ “ክተት” ብላችሁ ልካችሁት እንደ ቅጠል ረግፎ የቀረው ወጣት ነው። የሰው ማዕበል ስትራቴጂ በዚህ የቴክኖሎጂ ዘመን የሚያስገኘው ውጤት ኢምንት ነው። የሰው ማዕበል በአንድ ድሮን፣ በአንድ የአውሮፕላን ቦንብ ወይም በዘመናዊ አውቶማቲክ መሳሪያ ይበተናል። አፋር
- “አሸባሪው ትህነግ”በማይጠብሪ፣ በዋግ በአበርገሌ አከባቢ፣ በራያና በአላማጣ ከፍተኛ ኪሳራ ደርሶባታልየአማራ ክልል የመንግሥት ኮምዩኒኬሽን ጉዳዮች ጽሕፈት ቤት ዋና ዳይሬክተር ግዛቸው ሙሉነህ ጀግናው የመከላከያ ሠራዊት፣ ልዩ ኃይል፣ ሚሊሻ እና የአማራ ሕዝባዊ ሠራዊት በአውደ ዉጊያ ዉሎው ጠላትን እያንበረከከ ወደፊት እየገሰገሰ መሆኑን አስታወቁ። በማይጠብሪ፣ በዋግ በአበርገሌ አከባቢ፣ በራያና በአላማጣ ከፍተኛ ኪሳራ ደርሶባታል ዋና ዳይሬክተሩ በቅጥረኛ የትህነግ ተቀጣሪ አክቲቪስቶች በሀሰት እንደሚነዛው መረጃ ሳይሆን በማይጠብሪ፣
- አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽን የቅጥፈት መግለጫ አወጣ፤ ቡድኑንን እየበጠበጠ ነው“ሕዝባችንና መንግስታችን” የሚል ተደጋጋሚ ሃረግ በመጠቀም መገልጫ ያሰራጨው የኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽን አትሌት ለሜቻ ግርማ በ3000 መሰናክል እንዲወዳድር መደረጉ አግባብ እንዳልሆነ አስታወቀ። በመግለጫው የሰጠው ምክንያትና ቀደም ሲል ያቀረበው ሪፖርት አይሰማማም። ፌዴሬሽኑ በቶኪዮ ኦሊምፒክ አጠቃላይ ሂደት ላይ ያሰራጨው መግለጫ ” ከውዲሁ የለሁበትን” ዓይነት ሲሆን ውጤቱን አብዝቶ ሊጎዳ የሚችልና ኢትዮ 12 ባደረገው ማጣራት
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