Angolan start-up mobile services company Angorascom Telecomunicacoes – backed by Egyptian entrepreneur Naguib Sawiris – has reportedly made ‘no progress’ in developing launch plans since November 2019 when it was named as a partner of state-owned Angola Telecom (AT) to utilise the latter’s Unified Global operating licence and introduce the country’s third cellular network. Expansao writes that Mr Sawiris has asked the Angolan government for permission to wait until March 2020 to make a final decision on whether to proceed with the AT mobile partnership, in light of ongoing developments in the sector (which include the government’s fourth Unified Global licence tender process alongside a state telecoms privatisation programme, plus the recent freezing of assets belonging to Isabel dos Santos – owner of a major stake in mobile market leader Unitel, which itself recently became 50% controlled by national oil firm Sonangol via the exit of Brazilian telco Oi).
Presidential Order No. 193/19 of 4 November 2019 authorised the ‘sub-concession’ of AT’s licence, under which Angorascom was given a schedule to launch commercial services by February 2021, and is expected to invest around USD320 million – including USD120 million to pay AT’s existing overdue licence fees (USD60 million in the short term and the remainder in phases) and a further USD200 million in launch costs including upgrading/expansion of existing infrastructure owned by AT (which had already begun a 4G LTE rollout) and new cellular network deployment.
Naguib Sawiris is executive chairman of Orascom Investment Holding (OIH, formerly Orascom Telecom Media & Technology Holding).