Angola’s new mobile entrant Africell aims to launch services in mid-2021 under a plan to invest ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ in the country, reports VerAngola. Africell’s chief investment officer Ian Paterson told news agency Lusa that Africell is in ‘advanced discussions with several financing partners’ while it expects to conclude final negotiations with Angola’s government on licensing terms by end-September 2020, following the official confirmation earlier this month of its selection as the country’s fourth Unified Global operating licensee, enabling infrastructure-based mobile, internet, fixed line and pay-TV services.
Mr Paterson said the Angolan market is ‘very attractive because there is very little real competition’, stating that ‘Unitel is a dominant player in the market and customers suffer as a result’. He added that pricing, value and service quality can all be improved by introducing effective competition, and promised that Africell will introduce ’pricing plans that are much more creative and flexible’ with ’more high speed solutions, more value-added services’ integrated with mobile payments and content. Paterson stressed that the company is hoping for strong regulatory support to enable it to make extensive use of infrastructure sharing, including towers and fibre cables, to avoid unnecessary duplication. Over the last five years the Africell group obtained USD370 million in financing from the US International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC, formerly OPIC), IFC (World Bank) and other funds including Gemcorp Capital and Helios Investment Partners.
Angola’s mobile market is currently a duopoly of Unitel and Movicel, while state-backed fixed line operator Angola Telecom holds the third Unified Global licence and is planning a mobile launch in partnership with Egyptian-backed Angorascom, TeleGeography notes. The Lebanese-backed, UK-headquartered Africell group operates mobile networks in Gambia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.