Angola’s new offshore cable system to service the crucial oil and gas sector
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. The mobile market remains vibrant despite a continued duopoly between Unitel and Angola Telecom’s Movicel. There has been particularly good progress in LTE network development into 2016. A new unified licensing regime should accelerate growth in the mobile sector in coming years.
The government has aimed to develop telecom infrastructure 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. However, there is much progress to be made if the country is to improve the business climate and attract investors: in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’ for 2013 Angola ranked 179th of 189 countries benchmarked, falling to 181st in 2014 report and staying there in 2015.
Competition has been 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 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 Angola Telecom’s DSL, cable modem and Fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) services. Access pricing has fallen with the landing of WACS, the second international fibre optic submarine cable in the country. This followed years of monopolisation by Angola Telecom of the SAT-3/WASC cable, the only international cable serving the country until 2012.
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. Angola Telecom has national and international fibre, copper and satellite infrastructure assets worth billions of dollars. As part of the restructuring program, the government injected more than $300 million into the company in 2012 alone. Angola is preparing to launch its first own communications satellite into orbit in early 2017.
Market penetration rates in Angola’s telecoms sector – 2015 (e)
|Penetration of telecoms services:|
|Mobile SIM (population)|
- Movicel to close down its CDMA network and release spectrum to the regulator for other uses;
- 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 and VoLTE services;
- Angola Cables progressing with South Atlantic Cable System linking Luanda with Brazil;
- AngoSat-1 to be operational in Q1 2017;
- National Centre for Information Technology (NITC) launches Angola Online Wi-Fi project;
- Multitel migrates network from WiMAX to TD-LTE;
- Government releases National Plan for Information Society (PNSI) and Strategic Plan for Electronic Government to 2017;
- Angola Telecom continues with restructuring, launches a stand-alone broadband offering;
- Report updates include recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Angola Telecom; Movicel/MoviNet; Unitel; Mercury Telecom (MS Telecom); Telesel; Nexus; Mundo Startel (Telecom Namibia); Wezacom; Main One; Angola Cable; Angola Communication Systems (ACS); Snet; Multitel; Maxnet; Net One, Internet Technologies Group (ITG); TV Cabo (Visabeira); Portugal Telecom; Angola Cables.