South Africa-based multinational telecoms group MTN has reportedly withdrawn from Angola’s international public tender for a fourth mobile network operator licensee, claiming that the process is ‘flawed’, the Expansao newspaper writes. The Angolan ICT ministry and telecoms regulator INACOM have not issued comments on the matter, but the report claims that MTN’s withdrawal leaves only one candidate in the running for the fourth ‘Unified Global’ licence (permitting mobile/fixed voice/data and TV services), a local start-up named Telstar Telecomunicacoes, established in January this year. The would-be new entrant’s majority shareholder, General Manuel Joao Carneiro, is linked with alternative fixed telephony firm Mundo Startel.
28 November 2018 is the date scheduled for announcing the result of the fourth licensee contest.
MTN has not issued an official statement on the issue, although Expansao quoted ‘company sources’ saying that the group declined to continue with the licence tender process due to a ‘lack of transparency’. Earlier this year UK mobile giant Vodafone Group was also linked with a prospective bid for an Angolan mobile/quad-play licence; Vodafone’s South African subsidiary Vodacom gained a toehold in Angola in late 2017 by establishing a corporate ISP/data services division, Vodacom Business Angola, notes TeleGeography. Angola is currently home to two active mobile network operators, Unitel and Movicel, whilst incumbent state-owned telco Angola Telecom holds the third Unified Global (including mobile) licence but has recently indicated that a quick mobile service launch is not its top priority whilst it focuses on rejuvenating its struggling fixed line/fixed-wireless operations, TeleGeography added.