The Business Year

Felisberta Jesus

ANGOLA - Telecoms & IT

Felisberta Jesus

General Manager, MSTelcom

Bio

Felisberta Jesus is General Manager of MSTelcom.

TBY talks to Felisberta Jesus, General Manager of MSTelcom, about the company’s accomplishments, services and products on offer, and goals for 2022.

MSTelcom, founded as a subsidiary of Sonangol, was licensed in 2003 as a fixed telephony Telecommunications Service Operator by the Angolan Communications Institute (INACOM). Today, it is considered one of the key companies within Angola’s ICT sector. What has MSTelcom accomplished since then?

MS Telcom started out as an internal operations provider of telecom within Sonangol in 1996, building its transmission satellite network. In 2003, we acquired the license as a fixed operator and started serving not only Sonangol, but the oil and gas sector as a whole. Two years later, we started to build our optical fiber network, thus becoming the pilot of what Unitel is today. Later, we worked with our partner, Mitrelli, to create Net One serving the B2C business. One of our main goals over the past few years has been the expansion of our fiber-optic network. Currently, we have fiber connecting Luanda northside to Soyo, Benguela, and Lubango in the South, right up to the border with Namibia, in Cunene. This fiber network is complemented by a microwave network to extend services where we do not have optical fiber. Being an internet service provider for transmission, in 2019 we decided to change the way we view telecommunications and start providing managed services. And so today, we provide not only transmission, but all the managed services such as applications, the cloud, and cyber security. 

MSTelcom offers a wide range of products and services including telephone, internet access, data transmission, colocation, satellite communications, radio (VHF and UHF), ICT services (Cloud and Cyber Security) and technical assistance. Could you provide us an overview of the aforementioned services?

We offer telephone services for analog telephones, PRI trunks, and void trunks with SIP. We also offer PBX solutions. Internet services comprise the majority of our sales and generate the highest revenue, while ICT services are rather new. This includes cloud and cyber security, but we also have disaster recovery, web design, domain services, and infrastructure as a backup. Since 2020, we have also started to build telecom infrastructure cabling for customers. Regarding our clients’ typology: the largest business lines are oil and gas, banking, corporate and wholesale. Other major segments are public institutions, where we collaborate, amongst others, with most of the Ministries. Finally, I should highlight the importance of our B2C customers, currently exceeding 1,000 clients. 

The cybersecurity industry is expected to grow at a 9.7% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) until 2026. Recently, MSTelcom launched “MST Cyber Security” and “MST Cloud services.” How can these services support cybersecurity protection in Angola?

Over the past year, the data volume in Angola has increased because of the pandemic. Many companies have identified they needed for further implement digitalization within their organizations. Consequently, further cyber-attacks in public and private institutions have taken place in Angola and globally. In Angola, several major public companies have suffered. Companies are, therefore, demanding better cyber security and cloud services. We see difficulty ahead in terms of pricing, as cloud and cyber security services in Angola are more expensive than those offered by foreign companies. Telecom companies must reduce prices to enable local companies to turn to our services. We are immersed in a process of convincing the companies that our prices are not prohibitively expensive when considering the pay-off. Africell was announced as the winner of the public tender to become the fourth mobile operator in July 2020.

In 2021, MSTelcom signed an agreement with Africell that will allow the new operator to rent infrastructure to accommodate servers in the Data Center. What is the importance of this agreement for MSTelcom?

The first issue we need to address is the operational costs of the IT sector. These costs in Angola are excessive, which makes it difficult for new operators to enter the market. What’s more, Africell shares infrastructure with Angola Telecom or Unitel, which is good for the country because infrastructure is a plus for the country itself. Taking this into account, we are open to sharing our infrastructure with Africell. We believe that more openness in the market can bring more intense competition and, ultimately, better and cheaper services for the end user.

Regular access to the internet for the Angolan population has become an issue. Many claim that prices are too high or the connection is unstable. What can be done by the ICT sector to increase the rate of internet access?

On the one hand, costs for the operators to implement infrastructure are high, which results in higher consumer prices. Although operators need to try, the government also needs to lower the tax prices and help operators import the necessary technology. On the other hand, we have concerns regarding internet cabling. If high prices are passed to the operators, we feel unable to reduce prices ourselves, as we need to operate profitably. Apart from that, the cost of living in Angola is high and the power purchase of the population is low. Today, the reality is that most of the population is more concerned about food than the internet. 

What are the key objectives for MSTelcom in 2022?

We have been particularly focused on the B2B segment, but for 2022, we aim to increase our share in the B2C business and expand our access to the more remote regions. And we obviously intend to increase the percentage of people with regular access to the Internet. In order to achieve those goals, we are aware of the need to improve our infrastructure. In the short term our expectation is to increase our revenue in the B2C segment, while maintaining our position in the B2B segment. 

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