Good morning everyone. Thank you to Chris Lundh (CEO of Africell Angola), Ziad Dalloul (Founder of Africell Group), Gonçalo Farias (Chief Strategy Officer) and Minister Homem for your introduction and comments.
I am thrilled to join the inauguration of Africell’s Data Center. It is an impressive operation! This data center incorporates the most high-tech equipment available in the telecommunications sector. Nokia, A highly regarded international company, is providing the equipment you see here, as throughout Africell’s network.
The U.S. Embassy is delighted to support Africell, a US-owned mobile network operator with more than 12 million customers across Africa, which was selected by the Angolan government to become this country’s fourth Global Telecommunications Operator.
Since the agreement was officially signed with Angolan Ministry of Telecommunications, Africell has been hard at work to get this facility up and running. The opening of the data center is a key step in Africell’s progress, and a big step for Angola.
Africell’s investment, a major portion of which is being subcontracted to local firms, is expected to significantly increase competition in the market, as well as improve the availability and affordability of communications. This will strengthen the service sector, lower the cost of internet access and boost overall economic growth in Angola.
Importantly, Africell leaders have reiterated to me their commitment that by the end of the month at least 70 percent of the company workforce will be Angolans. By the end of 2021 Africell expects to have 373 staff employed – a mix of direct and contract, but all salaried. The company also plans to hire, train and deploy 2,500 others to distribute SIMs across Luanda. Nearly all contractors are Angolan companies. Furthermore, by introducing convenient and easy-to-use mobile financial services across its network, Africell has committed to improving financial inclusion; helping to drive economic development.
I fully expect that Africell’s success will inspire other American companies to seek out opportunities in Angola, particularly around projects that will strengthen the country’s critical infrastructure and drive economic growth and prosperity.
Congratulations to Africell on this momentous occasion. We all look forward to watching your progress and the launch of your services before the end of the year. You are providing an invaluable service to the people of Angola. Thank you.