Angola aims to be a central tech force in Africa

Angola aims to be a central tech force in Africa

Southern African country seeks to establish itself as a telecommunications and internet hub on the continent, according to Intelsat Africa executive.

Angola has ambitions to emerge as a competitive technology force and internet hub in Africa. Telecommunications professionals focused on the market, like Hans Geldenhuys, Managing Sales Director at Intelsat Africa, say the Southern African country is undergoing a technology transformation underpinned by an increasing need for connectivity and innovations across key sectors.

Geldenhuys says according to the latest data sourced from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Angola's ICT and telecoms sector has recorded an annual growth rate of 55% over the past 10 years and has 14 million consumers.

He says that key verticals, including energy, banking and government, are either diversifying their networks or expanding geographically and this is fuelling the high demand for broadband, especially mobile.

Reaching rural areas with connectivity and routing the benefit to sectors like agriculture, education and healthcare remain priorities for the country's government, says the Intelsat Africa executive.

Its fixed telecommunications market is also an area where improving network quality and coverage could have a great impact on the local economy.

However, as Geldenhuys points out, the ITU also states that access to the internet remains low and Angola's penetration rate was 12.4% in 2015.

According to internetlivestats.com, in 2016 the country was home to almost 6 million internet users or 23% of the population.

"Angola represents one of the largest opportunities for infrastructure providers in the region. We are talking with local service providers who need support expanding the reach of broadband networks, creating infrastructure that connect last-mile deployments to remote businesses and residences and help Angola compete in the competitive African economy," says Geldenhuys.

He asserts that a new unified licensing regime should accelerate growth in the mobile sector. "Taking into account the growth of the entire economy and the focus of the local government in the ICT industry as a catalyst for the country's development, Angola is a land of opportunity for ICT players of all sizes and flavours."

Investment in satellite

While the country continues to invest in the development of its telecommunications infrastructure, Geldenhuys is adamant that no single technology can solve all the connectivity needs.

At the same time he believes that with recent technological advances significantly increasing throughput, the satellite sector is ideally positioned to meet the demand for broadband. The technology, he says, provides ubiquitous and multipoint communications "and remains a flexible and cost-effective solution for domestic and international networks."

He says satellite broadband services will support new bandwidth-heavy, cloud-based applications, as well as enable new applications such as the Internet of Things, Machine-to-Machines (M2M) operations, and the connected car sector.

"Communications networks going forward will increasingly be a hybrid solution combining fibre, wireless networks and satellite. This is why we have made it easier to integrate satellite solutions into existing networks and are also driving ground innovations, such as smaller, portable, solar-powered antennas, that will make it even easier to deploy satellite solutions."

The focus going forward will be on infrastructure that can connect last-mile deployments to remote businesses and residences.