Given the Angolan government’s aim to bring in more competition to the telecoms sector and new operator Africell’s aim to be a disruptive force in that market, then it seems that both may have got their wish after news that, in its first month of full operation, Africell has won over two million subscribers.
This news came from a rather unusual source – US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman – though it may not be so unusual given that Africell Group is the only US-backed mobile telecommunications operator in Africa; the US Development Finance Corporation (DFC), is Africell Group’s biggest external investor and Africell describes itself as an active supporter of US investment in Africa.
Indeed, it was while at Africell’s Angolan headquarters at the end of a multi-country African tour that Sherman opened a roundtable for American businesses operating in Angola and praised both Africell and the more favourable climate for investments put in place by Angolan President João Lourenço.
The Africell Group, meanwhile, can point to operations in Gambia, Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Angola, as proof of its commitment to the African market, albeit the company was less successful in Uganda which it left in 2021 after seven years.
Nevertheless this is a good start to its ownership of Angola’s fourth unified telecommunications license (alongside Angola Telecom, Unitel and Movicel) and its promise to disrupt the national telecom marketby opening a new era of competition in the fixed voice, mobile and data segments.
According to Ecofin Agency Africell has invested more than $150 million in the Angolan market to build a high-quality 5G-enabled network with an initial capacity of more than six million subscribers.