Investment in Angola Provides Telecom with Platform for Future Growth

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By Staff Reporter WINDHOEK Telecom Namibia’s joint venture in Angola, MundoStartel (MST), says it is making “strong progress” towards the deployment of the wireless WiMAX network before the launch of its services in the capital Luanda. MST chairman, Manuel Carneiro was in buoyant tone when he recently spoke about the imminent launch of MST in Angola’s telecom market. “Surely we’re making strong progress [towards the launch date],” Mr Carneiro said in Windhoek last Wednesday. “There is a lot of goodwill from the Angolan government towards MST. Even the population is eagerly awaiting the launch of MST services,” the MTS chairman said. MST has kept Angolans guessing as to when it will launch its long-awaited services in the country. When asked about the exact date, he tersely replied: “We’ve our sights on July this year.” A media release from Telecom Namibia says Carneiro was in Windhoek to attend a MST board meeting, the first to take place in Namibia since the signing of the shareholders’ agreement in Luanda in February 2004. Telecom Namibia says that almost three years ago, the company proved it was not afraid to take big bites when it agreed to buy a 44 percent stake in the MST joint venture, Angola’s start-up fixed-line operator. “We see great potential in that largely untapped market. Our investment in Angola provides Telecom Namibia a platform for growth in the future. It’s absolutely a right decision,” says Frans Ndoroma, Telecom Namibia’s managing director and vice-chairman of MST board. Ndoroma said the joint venture represents a tremendous opportunity for Telecom Namibia’s business portfolio. “We look forward to our ongoing relationship with our partners in MundoStartel,” he added. He is optimistic that MST will grow from strength to strength, becoming a venture with the operational, strategic and financial flexibility to take advantage of the dynamics of the Angolan telecom landscape. “We are glad to have Telecom Namibia as our strategic partner and exploit its experience for MST’s success in the Angolan market,” Carneiro said. Speaking at the start of the board meeting, Telecom Namibia’s board chairman, Titus Haimbili, applauded the progress made to have the joint venture up and running.ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚  “I’m proud of what we have accomplished and I’m excited about how much more we’re going to do,” he said. “Our strategic intent is correct, and we need to deliver without any further delay in order to reap the fruit of our investment,” Haimbili added. He said MST needed to focus on delivering solid results while making a number of significant strategic moves in a very short window of time. Some of the major MST milestones recorded so far include the signing of the Shareholders Agreement in February 2004 and the approval of Telecom Namibia’s application for Foreign Direct Investor (FDI) status by Angola’s Council of Ministers on April 15, 2005. The FDI Certificate was only issued on July 8, 2005, however. The network components were sourced from a Chinese supplier, ZTE, selected through an open tender process in 2005. MST Managing Director Ernst Nitchke, a Namibian, said the building of the company’s offices and technical building in Luanda was recently completed. Final preparations for a start-up are now being made at the complex, at the centre of which is the rolling-out of a nationwide Next Generation Network (NGN) in that vast African country of 11 million people. “We’re happy the building has been completed, though it’s been slow to happen due to many logistical issues,” Nitschke said. “With the completion of the building project, I believe we have a strong opportunity to go ahead much faster with our roll-out plans for Luanda,” he said. MST is to launch WiMAX services initially in Luanda and Benguela. After a period of 12 months, they will move to Huambo, Namibia, Huila, Kwanza Sul and Cabinda. The third phase will follow a year later, and the fourth yet another year later.