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Sun sets on Telstar Angola’s mobile licence after less than two weeks

Telstar Angola.jpg

The government of Angola has cancelled a telecoms licence just days after making the award to a previously virtually unknown company.

Telstar was set to become the fourth in the Angolan market, competing with Angola Telecom, Movicel and Unitel. José Carvalho da Rocha, the minister for telecoms and IT, announced the win on 12 April.

But just a few days later the president of the country, Joao Lourenço, has stepped in and cancelled the offer because of alleged “non-compliance” to “certain procedures of this operation”, according to local media.

Carvalho da Rocha will organise a new call for tenders within 30 days, say Angolan publications.

Questions were asked about Telstar from the moment it was formed in early 2018 to bid for the licence, two months after the government announced the call for tenders.

South African group MTN was one of 27 companies – including 18 Angolan companies – that requested information on the tender, but it withdrew, apparently because of a “supposed lack of transparency in the tender procedures”. In the end only three companies submitted bids.

Telstar had a share capital of 20,000 kwanza, equivalent to $62. Its shareholders were named as General Manuel João Carneiro, chairman of Mundo Telecommunicaçoes, with 90% and António Cardoso Mateus with 10%. The company did invest $120,000 in the specifications for the tender and was committed to pay 15% of the $120 million licence fee shortly after the award. The whole licence fee was due to be paid over seven years.

The licence, now withdrawn, would have allowed Telstar to offer 2G, 3G and 4G services – though the company promised in a YouTube video to be planning to become the first Angolan company to offer 5G services.

That YouTube video appears to be Telstar’s only public presentation. It claimed relationships with 19 organisations, including Orange and Zain in the operator business, plus Cisco, Huawei and Nokia as vendors, as well as AWS, Microsoft and 21st Century Fox.

The video ended with an image of the sun setting over the Atlantic Ocean.

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