Angola: ‘fourth operator’ to be licensed; Angola Telecom to be part-privatised
1 December 2017
Angola’s Minister for Telecoms & IT, Jose Carvalho da Rocha, has stated that the government aims to issue an international public tender for a ‘fourth telecoms operator’ to provide mobile, broadband, fixed line and pay-TV services, in which it intends to take a 45% stake. Further details are expected to be released by the end of this year, and proposals for the tender will be accepted up until 27 February 2018, Lusa news agency reported, adding that the government claims to have already received foreign telecoms investor interest.
As reported by Lusa and other Portuguese language news sites including Expresso and RTP, the Angolan government also revealed that it is in the process of privatising a 45% stake in state-owned fixed network operator Angola Telecom. As previously indicated by regulator INACOM – and now confirmed by the ICT Ministry – Angola Telecom has been designated the country’s third ‘Unified Global’ communications licensee covering all mobile/fixed voice/data/TV services alongside cellcos Unitel and Movicel, under the new converged Electronic Communications framework (entering law in full on 3 October 2017, TeleGeography notes). The Ministry’s declaration of a ’fourth operator’ tender alongside a part-privatisation signifies that the government wants to raise competition and diversify investment in the sector to prevent monopolies. Angola Telecom already owns a minority stake in second-placed mobile player Movicel, whilst Isabel dos Santos, the billionaire daughter of former Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, controls a 25% stake in market leader Unitel via an investment vehicle; her half-sister Welwitschia dos Santos reportedly owns an indirect stake in Movicel. New president Joao Lourenco, who took office in September, promptly sacked Isabel dos Santos as head of national oil company Sonangol (itself also a 25% Unitel stakeholder via its broadband division MSTelcom) in one of his first high-profile actions.
It is yet to be confirmed, meanwhile, if Angola Telecom has been successful in the 4G 800MHz (digital dividend) mobile frequency licence auction launched by INACOM in August.
In another move aimed at encouraging new entrants, the ICT Minister also stated this week that he will demand operators comply with infrastructure sharing guidelines, under an existing decree that requires all infrastructure capable of hosting ICT services to be shared, for the purposes of reducing investment whilst boosting competition.
Elsewhere, the launch of the first Angolan satellite, AngoSat-1, has reportedly been rescheduled from 7 December to 26 December 2017. Angolan satellite services operator Infrasat, part-owned by Angola Telecom, has already sold 65% of Ku-band capacity of the new orbiter.