State-owned fixed line operator Angola Telecom (AT) has decided to cancel its mobile network launch partnership with start-up company Angorascom Telecomunicacoes, AT’s chairman Adilson dos Santos told a press conference, reported by news agency Lusa. In November 2019 Angorascom – associated with Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris’ Orascom Investment Holding – was granted presidential permission to provide mobile services via a ‘sub-concession’ of AT’s Unified Global licence, and Mr dos Santos stated at the time that Angorascom would partner the telco in a plan to enter the cellular market – currently duopolised by Unitel and Movicel – by February 2021. The chairman confirmed this week, however, that AT ‘will no longer follow up on the authorisation request for the sub-concession of the mobile service’ due to ‘legal and technical’ aspects of the arrangement not being fulfilled, whilst a change in the macroeconomic environment was cited as an additional reason.
Dos Santos also announced that AT will share its infrastructure with Angola’s new fourth Unified Global licensee Africell, telling Lusa: ‘We are very committed to being an infrastructure sharing company and if it depends on Angola Telecom, Africell will not take long to enter the market, because our infrastructure will be available from a commercial point of view,’ adding that such arrangements will reduce the new operator’s need to build duplicate towers or fibre. ‘We are already having some conversation with Africell, it will not be a problem for us because we are not antagonistic in relation to [network sharing],’ the chairman said.
On 6 July 2020 Angola’s Ministry of Telecommunications & IT (Ministerio das Telecomunicacoes e Technologias de Informacao, MTTI) confirmed the government’s selection of UK-based, Lebanese-backed Africell to receive the fourth Unified Global licence permitting infrastructure-based mobile, internet, fixed telephony and pay-TV services, which was first announced in May. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, at end-March 2020 Angola’s mobile population penetration rate remained slightly below 50%, compared to the African average of nearly 85%.