Angola picks Africell as fourth telecoms operator

30 June 2020

Angola handed the licence for its fourth telecoms network to Lebanese giant Africell, as sub-Saharan Africa’s second-biggest oil producer continues to open other economic sectors to foreign competition.

The south-western nation had awarded the licence last year to a domestic start-up called Telstar but president João Lourenço annulled the decision, saying the company failed to meet the bidding requirements. Africell is already present in four African countries - Gambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Uganda. Angola’s mobile phone market, with almost 14 million users, is currently dominated by two privately held companies – Unitel and Movicel. A third operator, Angola Telecom, offers fixed and internet access but currently has no mobile services.

Isabel dos Santos, daughter of former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, owns half of Unitel’s share capital. She was recently indicted for a host of high-level financial crimes.