Minister highlights developments in Angola Telecom restructuring

20 May 2016

Angola’s Minister of Telecoms & IT Jose Carvalho da Rocha gave a speech on developments in the ICT sector at a press conference held on the premises of the State Administration’s Strategic Corporate Information and Marketing Office (GRECIMA). As reported by Angolan news agency ANGOP, the minister clarified that the 2017 deadline for placing in orbit the Angosat 1 communications satellite will not be undermined by the current financial difficulties facing the country, whilst also highlighting that 20,000 kilometres of fibre-optic cable is live in Angola, connecting 18 provincial capitals. He also spoke of the need to review pricing of telephony and internet access, stating that it is necessary to change the taxation method for communications services in Angola ‘in order to allow the user to pay the real price for the use of these services’. Regarding cyber security, the official said that the ICT sector is committed to ensuring ‘safer’ usage of the internet in the country, but denied claims that the government’s wants to ‘control’ online social media.

Elsewhere in his speech, the ICT minister highlighted the fact that state-owned fixed line incumbent Angola Telecom (AT) is undergoing transformation to turn it into a ‘major contributor to the state budget.’ Telecompaper reports that Pedro Durao Leitao, a former director of Portugal Telecom, has been appointed by the Angolan government to coordinate the interim committee managing the restructuring of AT. According to a document from the Ministry of Telecoms & IT obtained by Portuguese newspaper Lusa, an interim management committee has been set up for the operations of the company, while the management contract and programme are being negotiated. The report continues that the Angolan government is aiming to hand over the management of the telco whilst selling assets as part of its transformation. The new management will be tasked with: stemming market share loss, increasing revenue and diversifying services among other objectives. The restructuring process provides for the capitalisation of AT through the sale of its assets and the transformation of satellite communications provider Infrasat. In another aspect of its restructuring, AT is among the three operators lined up for authorisation to provide mobile services alongside existing cellcos Unitel and Movicel under a new unified (convergent) licensing regime. Telecompaper adds that whilst Unitel and Movicel will receive unified telecom services licences alongside the newcomers, there are also plans for setting up regional operators as part of the new licensing process. Regarding the entry of other new players to the Angolan market, such possibilities ‘remain open’, with the exceptions of mobile telephony and pay-TV services, according to the technical manager of the Angolan Institute of Communications (INACOM), Leonel Augusto, quoted by Jornal de Angola.