Despite its troubled history, marked by a 27-year civil war, Angola (officially The Republic of Angola) is now more politically and economically stable and actively pursuing avenues to develop its society and develop the economy.
In addition to its natural wealth (including oil and diamonds) the country is making strides in ICT and is looking to leverage off technology to boost commerce and trade.
According to Internet World Stats, by Q2 2012, there were just under 3 million Internet users amongst Angola’s population of just over 20 million. By the end of December 2012, the country had just over 645 000 Facebook users.
In November 2012 Angola’s government, led by President José Eduardo dos Santos, announced it is looking to launch the first Angolan telecommunications satellite, or Angosat, by 2014.
Media reports at the time detailed Russia’s willingness to aid Angola in its efforts to make the satellite a reality.
Moreover, research shows that the country will soon mark over a decade of peace, helping to attract foreign interest and investment, fuelled by economic stability in key sectors including banking, oil and telecommunications.
Until recently, the latter has been largely off-limits to outside private investment.
Today, international ICT companies like IBM have publicly stated their commitment to training national personnel in the country.
Ericsson has also linked up with Business Sweden, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Swedish Embassy in Luanda to co-host an ICT conference in May 2013 to cover best practices, ICT benefits in the public and private sectors, policies and foundations and infrastructure, amongst other key topics of discussion.
Angola is one of the regions earmarked for engagement and affiliation to a two-year ICT venture, established by the mobile services operator, Business Sweden and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Fredrik Jejdling, Head: Ericsson Sub-Saharan Africa, said, “We are committed to our vision of a Networked Society in Africa, where technology enables new methods of learning and collaboration, innovative ways of doing business, and new approaches to old problems which results in a better quality of life. Over the past century, Ericsson has consistently explored ways in which we can deploy our technology and solutions to support development on the continent.”
There is vested interest in telecommunications to help sustain growth. According to research, the industry is regulated by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and its two executive agencies – Angola Telecom and the Angolan Communications Institute (INACOM).
Several subsidiaries are incorporated into the Angola Telecom fold, including GSM mobile phone network Movicel and broadband and satellite internet service provider Elta.
Movicel has been acknowledged to be at the forefront of LTE (Long Term Evolution) rollout. Although coverage is limited to only specific areas, as reported, including oil-rich Cabinda and Luanda, there is an expectation that this technology will go some way to helping the country sustain what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated would be a 9% growth in the country’s GDP in 2012.
Additionally, 4G technology is viewed as being central to the country’s future development.
According to Angola-Today, the country’s mobile phone network has experienced a $100 million upgrade, which, it is expected, will bring users closer to the 4G experience. The site claims that fixed line operating licenses have been granted to four companies, including MS Telecom, Startel, Nexus and Wezacom.
An annual report published online speaks of a marked increase in foreign investment into LTE, Internet and broadband development, including 3G, 4G and Fibre technologies.
The report states the estimated market penetration rates in Angola’s telecommunications sector end 2013 as being 89% for mobile, 1.5% fixed line and 24% Internet.
Although the market is still in its early stages of development, it does indicate efforts to rebuild the country and leverage off connectivity to do so.
Chris Tredger, Online Editor