Angola’s tender for a fourth mobile network operator licensee has been completed, with local start-up Telstar Telecomunicacoes claiming the ‘Unified Global’ concession permitting mobile/fixed voice/data and TV services, ending a process which began in November 2017. The country’s Ministry of Telecoms and IT (Ministerio das Telecom e Technologias de Informacao [MTTI]) confirmed the award to Telstar, majority-owned by General Manuel Joao Carneiro – linked with alternative fixed telephony firm Mundo Startel – after a total of 18 domestic and nine foreign companies had expressed interest, of which six acquired tender documents and three submitted bids. Only two applicants were invited to submit final technical/financial bids. Minister Jose Carvalho da Rocha stated that the new entrant must begin operations within twelve months, whilst it has 45 days to fulfil requirements for formal granting of the Unified Global licence. Currently, Angola is served by two cellcos, Unitel and Movicel, whilst struggling fixed line operator Angola Telecom holds the third mobile licence and is gearing up for a 4G LTE rollout.
In November 2018 it was reported that South African multinational telecoms group MTN had lost interest in the Angolan fourth licence tender, leaving Telstar – formed in January that year – as the frontrunner. Another big name connected with a potential bid in the tender was UK-based Vodafone Group, but although Vodafone subsidiary Vodacom has established its Vodacom Business Angola division, the group opted for a non-ownership-based partnership in the Angolan mobile sector, signing a cooperation deal with existing operator Movicel in March 2019.