The US-backed telecoms group Africell Holding has been asked to submit a bid for the fourth Angolan Unified Global operating licence.
The government of Angola asked Africell to submit a formal technical and financial proposal for the licence, which permits infrastructure-based mobile, internet, fixed telephony and pay-TV services, after Africell turned out to be the sole licence applicant interested in formalising a bid.
Two other companies – South Africa’s MTN Group and Angola’s BAI Investments – had reportedly registered an interest in the fourth licence but that appears to have been as far as their involvement went.
Local news agencies have reported that the preliminary stages of the fourth licence tender saw interest from a large number of major players, including Bharti Airtel, Maroc Telecom, Telkom South Africa, Orange Group and Vodafone Group – 12 companies in all. Now Africell is set to join state-backed fixed line operator Angola Telecom, which holds the third Unified Global licence, as a new entrant in the mobile market. Angola Telecom is planning a mobile launch in partnership with Egyptian-backed Angorascom.
Angola’s mobile market is currently made up of only two mobile operators: Unitel and Movicel. With a population estimated at 29 million there certainly seems room for more players and the Africell group undoubtedly has experience of African markets. It operates mobile networks in Gambia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, and also provides internet, pay-TV and mobile money services.