In 2021, the AME region has seen changes in market dynamics and competition with the entrants of new MNO and MVNO players. New players in the AME region can have a significant impact on the telecommunications market with many markets having only a few established MNO players.

In 2021, several countries awarded new MNO and MVNO licenses to stimulate competition and investment, resulting in more options for consumers, a better quality of service, and higher coverage. Most notably, in May 2021, the Ethiopian telecommunication regulator awarded a new telecommunications license to a consortium of companies that includes Safaricom, Vodafone and Vodacom, CDC Group, and Sumitomo Corporation.

Thus, ending the monopoly in the market held by Ethio Telecom. Ethiopia represents a lucrative market to telecom operators with the second-largest population on the continent and 46.8% mobile penetration in 2021, below the AME average of 98.3%. The Ethiopian regulator issued an MNO license for a third entrant that is still pending. Some other countries in AME that saw new MNO entrants in 2021 are Oman and South Sudan.

Some other AME countries introduced new MVNO licenses, like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa, in 2021. For example, in Kuwait, the telecom regulator awarded the country’s first MVNO license to Virgin Mobile Kuwait, a consortium between STC Kuwait and Virgin Mobile, in March 2021. In April 2021, Saudi Arabia awarded two new MVNO licenses to Integrated Communications Company (ITC), which is now known as Salam, and Future Networks for Communications Company. In addition, MVNO Poket Mobile launched in South Africa in June 2021. MVNOs offer more options for consumers and additional revenue streams for MNOs.