Angola seeks out new fourth mobile operator


Angola's President João Lourenço has initiated a new tender process for the country's fourth mobile operator and urged greater overall transparency.

Lourenço has ordered Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies Jose Carvalho da Rocha to immediately instruct the necessary dossier to formalise the opening of the new tender within 30 days.

The latest development follows the recent cancellation of a US$26-million fourth mobile phone operating licence, initially awarded to Telstar Telecommunicacoes, for alleged non-compliance with certain procedures in the tender.

Telstar, majority owned by General Manuel Joao Carneiro, secured the 'Unified Global' concession-permitting mobile/fixed voice, data and TV services on 12 April 2019, but the process was annulled by the presidential intervention six days later.

A statement from the President's Office explained the cancellation of Telstar was due to non-compliance with the terms of procedure "the requirement relating to the balance sheet and profit and loss statements, and the statement of overall turnover for the last three years."

Lourenço said Telstar failed to present operational results for the last three years.

Telstar did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publishing.

Angola currently has three mobile phone operators: Movicel, Unitel and the government-owned Angola Telecom.

In the first tender, 27 local and international companies expressed interest, six passed the first stage assessment and only two met the full requirements.

South Africa's MTN was one of the two fully qualified bidders, but the operator dropped out of contention in November 2018 after describing the process as flawed and citing a lack of transparency.

This meant that new market entrant Telstar, created in January 2018, was the only remaining candidate company.