- Within a month of opening the store in Angola, US-owned Africell has two million subscribers.
- The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State says countries using Huawei are compromising their sovereignty.
- Last year, Huawei invested R960 million in the construction of two technology training centers in Angola.
Rivalry between the US and China is poised to unfold in Angola’s mobile communications industry with the arrival of the US-owned Africell Mobile Company.
U.S. Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Africell’s activities in Angola are likely to affect Chinese-owned Huawei.
During her visit to Angola last week, she went to Africell’s offices, which she called “really phenomenal”.
The company was founded in 2001 by Ziad Dalloul and has launched in Gambia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
But last year, Africell left Uganda and shifted attention to their new business in Angola.
Since Sherman arrived in Angola as the first foreign-owned operator on April 7, Sherman said the company now has a subscription base of two million.
“This is a company that has been running, now going live for a month and has two million subscribers. They want to bring capacity to everyone in Angola. It was really a great effort,” she said.
Angola has three other operators, Movicel, state-owned Angola Telecom and Unitel, which has a partnership with Huawei that the Americans are aiming for.
“It’s not about casting a shadow over Huawei. We’ve been very direct. We believe that when countries choose Huawei, they are potentially relinquishing their sovereignty. They are passing on their data to another country,” Sherman said.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
Unitel and Huawei have been partners since 2019 in Angola’s initiative “Green site, Green network, and Green operation”.
Last year, Huawei invested R960 million ($ 60 million) in the construction of two technology training centers in what Chu Xiaoxin, the company’s CEO in Angola, said was part of the digital economy development program in Angola.
Despite Huawei’s development-oriented footprint, Sherman said Africell would provide security to mobile phone users in Angola ahead of Huawei.
“The [mobile phone users] may find themselves bringing in a surveillance capability that they did not even know was there. “So we have been very public about our concerns about Huawei, and so we are happy that Africell can give the people of Angola a safe, skilled tool in their hands to reach out to the world,” she said.
In May 2019, the United States imposed trade sanctions against Huawei due to the company’s alleged ties to Beijing. Former US President Donald Trump’s administration saw this as a national security threat, although Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations.
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