Telecommunications in Angola
In 2001, toward the end of Angolan Civil War, the government began adopting regulations to liberalize the telecom industry. This enabled private investments to revitalize the country’s telecommunications infrastructure which had been severely damaged by the decades-long conflict. By 2012, Angola had one of the largest mobile telecom markets in sub-Saharan Africa and Internet access was growing steadily. The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MCT) oversees the telecommunications sector which is regulated by the Angolan National Institute of Telecommunication (INACOM).
- 29 satellite earth stations (2009).
- SAT-3/WASC fiber optic submarine cable provides connectivity to Europe and Asia.
- AngoSat, Angola's first communication satellite, built by Rosoboronexport, is scheduled to launch in 2016.
Angola Telecom is one of twelve companies participating in the West Africa Cable System (WACS) consortium, a submarine communications cable running along the west coast of Africa and on to Portugal and the United Kingdom. The landing station for the older Sat3 cable, located at Cacuaco in Luanda, is operated by Angola Telecom.
Angola Cables is an operator of fiber optic telecommunication systems formed in 2009 by the major Angolan telecommunication companies, Angola Telecom (51%), Unitel (31%), MSTelcom (9%), Movicel (6%), and Mundo Startel (3%). On 23 March 2012 Angola Cables signed an agreement to participate in the construction of the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) of about 6000 km length linking Fortaleza in Brazil with the Angolan capital Luanda. This cable is planned to be operational from the 2014 world football championship in Brazil.
- 303,200 fixed lines, 116th in the world, two lines per 100 persons (2011).
- 9.5 million mobile cellular lines, 78th in the world, 50 lines per 100 persons (2011).).
- International country code: 244.
Angola Telecom, the state-owned telecom, held a monopoly for fixed-line telephone service until 2005. Demand outstripped capacity, prices were high, and services poor. Telecom Namibia, through an Angolan company, became the first private licensed operator in Angola's fixed-line telephone network. By 2010, the number of fixed-line providers had expanded to five; Angola Telecom established mobile-cellular service in Luanda in 1993 and the network has been extended to larger towns. A privately owned, mobile-cellular service provider began operations in 2001. HF radiotelephone is used extensively for military links.
- 21 AM, 6 FM, and 7 shortwave radio broadcast stations (2001)
- 630,000 radios (1997)
- 6 television broadcast stations (2000)
- 150,000 televisions (1997)
The state-owned Televisão Pública de Angola (TPA) provides terrestrial TV service on two channels and a third TPA channel is available via cable and satellite. TV subscription services are also available.
- Internet hosts: 20,703 hosts, 116th in the world (2012).
- Internet users: 3,058,195 users, 78th in the world; 16.9% of the population, 151st in the world (2012).
- Fixed broadband: 27,987 subscriptions, 124th in the world; 0.2% of the population, 162nd in the world (2012).
- Mobile broadband: 278,966 subscriptions, 108th in the world; 1.5% of the population, 129th in the world (2012).
- Top level domain name: .ao.
First introduced in 1996, the Internet reached a penetration rate of 16.9 percent in 2012, up from just over 3 percent in 2007, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Fixed-line broadband subscriptions, however, remain low with a penetration rate of only 0.2 percent in 2012, and are largely concentrated in the capital city, Luanda, due to the country’s high poverty rate and poor infrastructure in rural areas. Mobile Internet access is higher at 1.5% and access to mobile phones is much higher with a penetration rate of 49% in 2012.
In June 2012, Unitel launched a project in partnership with the education ministry and Huawei to provide free Internet access for secondary school students in both public and private schools across the country’s 18 provinces. Known as “E-Net,” the project aims to benefit over 18,000 students with computers supplied by Huawei and Internet access provided by Unitel.
Citizens have increasingly taken to the Internet as a platform for political debate, to express discontent with the country’s current state of affairs, and to launch digital activism initiatives. Similar to many other African countries, Angolan youth have embraced social media tools and used them to fuel protest movements across the country. The positive impact of digital media tools in Angola was particularly noticeable during the August 2012 parliamentary elections when the Internet was used in innovative ways to advance electoral transparency. For example, citizens were able to report electoral irregularities in real time, while the National Electoral Commission used the Internet and iPads to scan voter registration cards.
Internet access in Angola is provided by various telecommunications companies and private ISP's.
- Angola Telecom, the state-owned telecommunications provider
- MS Telcom, Sonangol owned provider, main focus on oil and gas sector
Internet Service Providers:
- ITA - Internet Technologies Angola, privately owned with a focus on corporate services
- Multitel, corporate focused ISP, subsidiary of Angola Telecom
- NetOne, residential WiMAX services
- TV-Cabo, residential TV and Internet services, subsidiary of Angola Telecom
Internet censorship and surveillance
- In its Freedom on the Net 2013 report, Freedom House rates Angola's "Internet freedom status" as "partly free".
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitors e-mail or chat rooms without judicial oversight. And aside from child pornography and copyrighted material, the government does not block or filter Internet content and there are no restrictions on the type of information that can be exchanged. Social media and communications apps such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and international blog-hosting services are all freely available. There are no issues of intermediary liability for service or content providers, nor are there known instances of take-down notices issued for the removal of online content. The government does deliberately take down its own content when it wants to prevent the public from accessing certain government information.
Censorship of traditional news and information sources is common, leading to worries that similar efforts to control online information will eventually emerge. Defamation, libel, and insulting the country or president in "public meetings or by disseminating words, images, writings, or sound" are crimes punishable by imprisonment. In April 2013 news reports said that the Angolan intelligence services were planning to implement an electronic monitoring system that could track e-mail and other digital communications, using equipment and expertize from Germany. A proposed "Law to Combat Crime in the Area of Information Technologies and Communication" was introduced by the National Assembly in March 2011. Often referred to as the cybercrime bill, the law was ultimately withdrawn in May 2011 as a result of international pressure and vocal objections from civil society. However, the government publicly stated that similar clauses regarding cybercrimes will be incorporated into an ongoing revision of the penal code, leaving open the possibility of Internet-specific restrictions becoming law in the future. The proposed law would have increased penalties for offenses in the criminal code when the offenses were committed using electronic media. The proposed law would have given authorities the ability to intercept information from private devices without a warrant and to prosecute individuals for objectionable speech expressed using electronic and on social media. Sending an electronic message interpreted as an effort to "endanger the integrity of national independence or to destroy or influence the functionality of state institutions" would have yielded a penalty of two to eight years in prison, in addition to fines.
- "Angola", Freedom on the Net 2013, Freedom House, 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
- "Angola", World Factbook, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
- "Angosat construction starts, target launch in 2016", Satellite Launches, 27 December 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
- "Telecom Namibia Deploys Fiber-Optic Cable for High-Speed Broadband Connectivity". England: Wireless Federation. 28 February 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- "Sistema de Cabos da África Ocidental entra na fase final" [Cable system in Western Africa in final phase] (in Portuguese). Luanda, Angola: Angop. 27 October 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- Manje, Bernardino (30 June 2012). "Cabo de fibra óptica melhora a Internet" [Fiber optic cable improves Internet access] (in Portuguese). Luanda, Angola: Jornal de Angola. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- "Subsea World News - Subsea Cable to Link Brazil and Angola". Subseaworld News. 26 March 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- "Brazil-Angola undersea cable link planned". London, Great Britain: Global Telecoms Business. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- "Percentage of Individuals using the Internet 2000-2012", International Telecommunications Union (Geneva), June 2013, retrieved 22 June 2013
- "Fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
- "Active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
- "Angola", Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 25 October 2013.