American mobile phone company Africell pledges to “shake up” the Angolan market
For Africell, settling in Angola is a “once in a generation opportunity”.
US mobile network operator Africell, the first wholly foreign-owned operator licensed to provide mobile services in oil-rich Angola, has pledged to shake up the “too-comfortable” market there.
The company reached an agreement with the Angolan government in February to join three other mobile phone companies already operating in the South West African country.
The Angolan telecommunications market is dominated by Unitel, a private operator long run by the country’s first daughter, Isabel dos Santos.
Accused of corruption, she resigned from the board of directors of the company last August, citing a “climate of permanent conflict”.
President Joao Lourenco – who took office in 2017 – has launched a bid to recover Angola from 37 years of alleged corruption and nepotism under his predecessor, José Eduardo dos Santos.
Dos Santos has been accused of placing friends and relatives in key government and business positions.
Lourenço took office on the promise of transforming the oil-dependent economy.
The transformation will require “the contribution of a foreigner who shakes up the too cozy business environment a bit,” Peter Pham, non-executive director of Africell, said on Friday.
The opening of the call for tenders to international players made it possible to break “some of the monopolistic tendencies” which had become established “under the previous regime”.
For Africell, moving to Angola is “a unique opportunity … to enter a market that has been closed for so long,” he said.
Africell currently operates telecommunications networks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Uganda.