The Business Year

Mário Augusto da Silva Oliveira, Minister of Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Social Communication

ANGOLA - Telecoms & IT

Mário Augusto da Silva Oliveira

Minister of Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Social Communication, Angola

Bio

Mário Augusto da Silva Oliveira, born on April 6, 1964, son of Mário Januário de Oliveira and Maria Augusta da Silva Oliveira, of Angolan nationality – Luanda, graduated in Telecommunications Engineering. He had a long career at Sonangol Group, having started at Sonair as a technician in 1991 and then held various positions at MSTelcom as Commercial Director in 2006, Director of Operations in 2009, Director of Engineering in 2012 and member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors. He was Vice President of the Angolan Handball Federation, President of Zone 6 SADC of the African Handball Confederation, member of the Executive Committee of the African Handball Confederation and member of the Angolan Olympic Committee. He carried out several technical, management and leadership training courses in Angola and Europe, participated in several fairs, workshops and work visits within the scope of the telecommunications sector at an international level. It has language in English and Spanish. His career in the Government began in October 2017 with his appointment as Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Information Technologies and currently serves as Minister for Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Social Communication.

"Angola has invested significantly in the telecommunications sector over the past 25 years."

TBY talks to Mário Augusto da Silva Oliveira, Minister of Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Social Communication, about Angola’s changing ICT needs, cross-border investment, and the future of the state.

The country is strongly committed to the diversification of its economy and, consequently, its telecommunications needs are essential to achieve the objective. What are your proposals as the new Minister of Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Social Communication to achieve these goals?

Angola has invested significantly in the telecommunications sector over the past 25 years, with fiber-optic networks, both terrestrial and submarine, microwave networks and now, lately, in the space segment. Telecommunications play a transversal role in a country’s economy. I must say that it was thanks to that investment made over the last 25 years that the country was able to withstand the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, it was possible for the economy to maintain a certain stability, services functioned, and all this is a consequence of past investment. We are also working on projects such as the expansion of the national fiber-optic broadband network and cyber security, and on the IT-driven modernization of health and education services. We are also set to pursue a complementary project of microwave networks, and Angola is due to join the Africa 2 submarine cable through a national operator, the largest submarine cable project currently underway.

Angosat-2 was launched into orbit on the 12th of October of 2022. How will ANGOSAT-2 reduce the digital divide in Angola and the African continent?

Angosat 2 will provide services in the C band, the KU band and the KA band. All of those systems have successfully passed the test stage. We are now preparing the next stage, which will be the commercialization and provision of services. Angola is a country of 1.2 million square kilometers, and in addition to that extensive area, its cities are dislocated. So, the end of the digital divide is one of the major services on which we are focused. Telemedicine is an enormous reality in the provinces of Moxico, Bengo, Huambo, and Bié; however, thus far, we have relied upon satellite resources from other operators. With Angosat 2, it will be easier for us to increase the national telemedicine network and also provide services to public schools. Subsequently, we will reduce the digital divide and boost digital literacy. Today, the control of our borders depends on this. We are also developing a project with the potential to control the flow of our rivers, and the spillage of fuel during oil exploration. With Angosat 2 and the earth observation project that we have underway, it will be possible for us to control the environment, including the migration of animals, the burning of wildfires, which is a phenomenon that happens all over Africa, the control of road and rail development projects, urban planning, the urbanization of towns and cities and migration. Therefore, both with Angosat 2 and the satellite earth observation project, we will be able to reach this entire social segment, which, the country needs very much in order to develop. Urbanization is a key consideration, and with it comes the improvement of the social conditions of our citizens.

Many incentives and measures have encouraged cross-border investment deals and attracted key suppliers. What opportunities make the sector appealing to investors keen to enter Angola’s ICT sector?

In terms of mobile telephony, today, Angola only covers about 51% of the country, so we have a significant margin for growth. And yet mobile telephony does not grow without basic transmission networks, and there the playing field is vast. There is a technology that we have been encouraging operators to use, which involves virtual mobile operators that are added to a traditional mobile operator. They are technically called, Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), and there is an open field for this type of service. And in terms of information technology we have also been encouraging the creation of Angolan platforms. Our young Angolans are highly creative, but occasionally lack the necessary space to develop their creativity. We are encouraging the major operators, and the creators that may emerge from among young Angolans to create platforms that serve the national market, the national economy and national companies. This is a vast field that can bring these operators and digital platform creators to Angola.

One of the main concerns among our interviewees is finding trained people. What are the Ministry’s initiatives in this regard?

Training is a practice that we have been doing for many years and I put much emphasis on training our users. We oversee the Institute of Telecommunications, which has a training center in its district, CFITEL, a center that even gives Cisco, Huawei, and Microsoft certifications. So, the technicians trained there have the opportunity to be certified by these large manufacturers. We have also encouraged other operators to set up centers of excellence in Angola. We recently inaugurated a center of excellence for training Huawei staff; a center of excellence for research. We have also encouraged other operators to come to Angola and set up such training centers. One of our greatest concerns, technology aside, is to boost the knowledge base of our young people to increase their employability. It has been proven that, worldwide, information technologies can make a huge contribution to reducing unemployment. This has a major reflection on the GDP of every country in the world. We have encouraged those who come to the country to train our young people because over time that has reduced our reliance on foreign expertise. We also have a business incubator overseen by the Ministry called Digital.ao. A young person pays nothing and has access to the internet, and to certain basic services that allow them to think, create and do what they do in Silicon Valley. Digital.ao is going to be expanded to other provinces of the country.

For the sub-sector of telecommunications and information technologies, the Angolan government has given particular attention on expanding the network across the country’s 18 provinces. Could you elaborate on this?

The media sub-sector is also developing rapidly in Angola because we have been modernizing the public television and radio networks, as well as the press. The leveraging of digital tools is of course fundamental to modernization. We believe that the media should not only inform, but also educate. We also provide information about technologies being implemented all over the world. From our perspective we are all working on social communication, not only in terms of delivering information, but also in the training of citizens in the most varied aspects of science, technology and citizenship. This can only lead to a better, more advanced country.

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