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US-owned Africell expands mobile services to Angola

Africa-focused mobile network operator Africell will launch a service in Angola on Thursday, becoming the nation’s fourth mobile telecommunications provider following a $150 million investment.

In an attempt to modernise its economy and attract private investment, the southern African oil producer has embarked on a wide-ranging reform and privatisation programme under President Joao Lourenco, who came to power in 2017.

U.S.-owned Africell, which counts the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) as its biggest external investor, secured an Angolan telecommunications license last year, becoming the first new operator to enter the market in two decades.

It joins Movicel, Unitel and state-owned Angola Telecom.

“Africell is building a mobile network that will soon be recognised as the best in the country,” Africell Angola Chief Executive Chris Lundh said in a statement on Wednesday.

The company’s 5G-ready network will have initial capacity for over 6 million subscribers.

Africell currently provides service to around 12 million subscribers in Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia and Sierra Leone. It said last year it was exiting Uganda where it has faced tough competition from MTN and Bharti Airtel.

Africell’s African expansion is being backed by a $100 million loan facility from the DFC, which is ramping up infrastructure investments in the developing world with the stated goal of providing an alternative to Chinese loans.

Africa’s telecommunications infrastructure development is dominated by Chinese firms including Huawai Technologies and ZTE Angola has historically been the largest recipient of Chinese lending in Africa. Nasdaq

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