Unit of Portugal Telecom and Angola’s Unitel in operation in the Congo by the second half

21 March 2006

Lisbon, Portugal, 21 March – The joint mobile telecommunications operator of Portugal Telecom (PT) and Angola’s Unitel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will begin operating in the second half of the year, a source from PT told Portuguese financial paper Jornal de Negócios, Monday.

According to the same source, the technical teams of the Portuguese operator, which acquired a GSM license at the end of last year, are currently on the ground finalizing technical preparations, which will be followed by a test stage.

PT and Unitel acquired 51 percent of the company holding the 900 to 1800 MHz GSM license from Zimbabwe’s Cellco. The remaining 10 percent held by Cellco was acquired by local shareholders and the remaining capital is held by Congolese state company OPCT.

PT owns 60 percent of the company that owns the majority stake and is responsible for its management, while Unitel, of which PT is itself a shareholder, the remaining 40 percent.

PT, which within 3 to 5 years aims to provide coverage of almost the entire Congolese population, will be competing with Vodacom, owned by Vodafone and Telkom South Africa, and Celtel, part-held by Kuwait’s MTC, as well as Oasis and other smaller operators.

Currently, Portugal’s largest telecommunications operator has interests in mobile and fixed communications markets in Sao Tome, Macau, Kenya, Mozambique, Botswana and Angola, via Unitel.

PT’s profit rose 4.9 percent in 2005, against the previous year, to 654 million euros, a record figure for the company. (macauhub)