Telecom Namibia's licence to operate in Angolan fixed line telephone network has been approved, the director of the Angolan Private Investment Agency (ANIP), Carlos Fernandes, announced last week. The MD of Telecom, Frans Ndoroma, confirmed to the Economist last Friday. "Yes it has been approved", he said. Mundo Startel, the company in which Telecom Namibia is a controlling shareholder, is the first and the only private operator in Angola's fixed telecommunication lines. Fernandes said the Angolan Cabinet had given the green light for Mundo Startel to start with operations.

"[The company] will provide residential and corporate fixed line service, public telephones and direct Internet access", says Fernandes. In February last year, Telecom signed a shareholder's agreement with Mundo Startel for 44% of the shares in the company. The rest of the shares are owned by the Commercial Bank of Angola (Banco Commercial Angolano), Mundo Telecommunications, Jemba Technical Assistance Lda, and two individual private investors.

Currently, says Ndoroma, "we are finalising the purchasing agreements with suppliers" to buy the needed equipment. The delivery of the equipment is expected by the beginning of the second quarter of this year. The following stage would be the "very lengthy process", said Ndoroma, of the construction and the setting up of the infrastructure. "But we hope that by beginning of next year [2006] we will be able to render a service, at least in Luanda", he said. Mundo Startel's rest of the shares are owned by Mundo Telecommunications, Commercial Bank of Angola (Banco Commercial Angolano), Jemba Technical Assistance Lda, and two private investors.

According to the shareholders agreement, Telecom will have to invest US$14 million (about N$84 million) in the next three years following the green light to operate. Mundo Startel will also be the first Angolan company to be run by Namibians.

As part of the deal, Telecom now has to provide three top executives to run the affairs of Mundo Startel for a period of five years. The executives will be the MD, the financial manager and the technical manager.

Mundo Startel said it will roll out the fixed line service first in Luanda and Benguela, from where it will move to Huambo, Namibe, Huila, Kwanza Sul and Cabinda.

The total investment by Mundo Startel is valued at US$53 million (about N$318 million), and will create about 276 new jobs for the Angolan people, says ANIP.

Namibia Economist