Angola’s SACS cable to link to US cable systems by end-2015
Following the end of a decades-long civil war in 2002, foreign investment in Angola has intensified. This has had a knock-on effect in the telecoms sector, where there has been considerable interest in national infrastructure upgrades, as well as in developing addition international capacity, as seen in the SACS cable between Angola and Brazil, expected to be lit later in 2015. The mobile market remains vibrant despite a continued duopoly between Unitel and Angola Telecom’s Movicel. Nevertheless, additional competition from a new unified licensing regime should accelerate growth further.
The government in recent years has aimed to develop telecom capacity in a bid to diversify the country’s economy and lessen its dependence on offshore crude oil production, which accounts for almost all exports and up to 80% of tax revenue. By extending and upgrading telecom networks the government expects businesses to become more efficient and for e-commerce to become a more prominent feature of economic growth. In addition, networks will facilitate rural access to education and health care. In the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index’ for June 2013 Angola ranked 179th of 189 countries benchmarked, falling to 181st in the June 2014 report.
Competition was also introduced in the underdeveloped fixed-line market, but launch delays and consolidation among the newly licensed players have led to a duopoly in this sector as well between Angola Telecom (AT) and Mercury Telecom. After three years of loss-making operations, Telecom Namibia pulled out of its investment in fixed-wireless operator Mundo Startel, citing regulatory obstacles.
EV-DO and WiMAX-based fixed-wireless as well as 3G and 4G (LTE) mobile broadband services are now also providing more internet access choices for consumers, competing with ATs ADSL, cable modem and Fibre to the Home (FttH) services. Prices have started to come down with the landing of WACS, the second international fibre optic submarine cable in the country, following years of monopolisation by AT of SAT-3/WASC, the only international cable serving the country until 2012. The operators have budgeted billions of $ in investments into mobile broadband and national fibre backbone networks for the period 2013-15.
Angola Telecom is going through a restructuring process with the help of international consultants, which is seen as a step towards greater liberalisation of the country’s telecom market, improved efficiency of the national telco and its eventual privatisation. A majority stake in its mobile unit, Movicel has already been sold to private investors and a migration from CDMA to GSM/UMTS/LTE technology has delivered a boost to the mobile market in the past two years. AT has national and international fibre, copper and satellite infrastructure assets worth billions of $. As part of the restructuring program, the government injected more than $300 million into the company in 2012. Angola is preparing to launch its first own communications satellite into orbit in 2014.
Estimated market penetration rates in Angola’s telecoms sector end-2014
Market | Penetration rate
Mobile | 65%
Fixed | 1%
Internet | 26%
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
- TV Cabo rebrands fibre service as Viv, secures 20 million loan from the EIB to expand broadband networks;
- Movicel begins hosting internet.org services;
- Angola Telecom’s Infrasat opens regional office serving eastern areas;
- Unitel trials 450Mb/s LTE-A technology;
- Angola Cables progressing with South Atlantic Cable System linking Luanda with Brazil;
- Angosat to be operational in Q1 2017;
- Oi to sell stake in Africatel Holdings;
- Intelsat signs multi-year agreement with MS Telcom to provide broadband services to the gas, oil and banking sectors;
- National Centre for Information Technology (NITC) launches Angola Online WiFi project;
- Multitel migrates network from WiMAX to TD-LTE;
- Government releases National Plan for Information Society (PNSI) and Strategic Plan for Electronic Government 2013-2017;
- FttP and national fibre backbone network rollouts;
- Angola Telecom continues with restructuring, launches a stand-alone broadband offering;
Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications