Virtual Connection

Africa Oil & Power Interviews Angelo Gama, Executive Director Angola Cables.

As a subsea cable operator, how does Angola Cables create efficiencies and cost reductions for operators?

We recently implemented the South Atlantic Cable Systems (SACS) a few months ago, a new 6,100-kilometer cable that runs from Luanda to Fortaleza. The project started in 2016, with wet implementation in 2017 and go live in 2018. We have another cable that runs from Fortaleza to Miami, and can now reach the U.S. within 128 milliseconds. As a result, we can transmit real-time applications and capacity for operators, specifically to Houston where most of the operators operating in Angola have head offices and expert centers.

There has been a trend for quite some time of digital platforms, where operators want to reduce the number of people operating the rig. If we can provide real-time communications, then we can reduce the number of experts required in the rig. With digital oil fields, operators can reduce manpower and the cost of analyzing and capturing data. SACS allowed us to reduce latency by half. We have been conducting a lot of tests, proving to communication providers that we can reduce communication time by 100 milliseconds, compared to prior communications coming from North American to Africa.

What is Angola Cable’s core business, and how has it evolved since the company’s establishment in 2009?

We are mainly wholesale operator when it comes to cables. We are in the data capacity business: IP traffic, transmission and co-location. We are now moving to gaming and cloud services. We have two data centers, one in Luanda that has existed for more than eight years and a brand new one that we inaugurated last April in Fortaleza. They both have been certified by the UPtime Institute. With the data center, we also have launched our cloud services. Although we were born as a wholesale capacity transmission company, we are now entering in content and cloud services business as well.

How would Angola Cables characterize the current climate for technology and innovation in Angola?

 One of the reasons that we established the consortium that makes up Angola Cables was to facilitate digital innovation in Angola. We have invested in several new market segments: launching the cloud, finalizing our gaming platform and planning the launch of this platform throughout Africa. People are now gaining awareness of the importance of technology and digitalization. This is where we want to bring our services in helping this ecosystem to develop and grow, which can be done by providing more internet and connectivity, and by bringing other countries closer to Angola with SACS.

How important is digitalization for Africa in terms of enabling the continent to leapfrog certain stages of development?

If we do not innovate internally, there is no way we can compete against other foreign companies. Our main market is the foreign market. We are doing most of our business outside of Angola. Technology-wise, there are not so many companies in Angola like Angola Cables with so much international exposure. The world is just one big ecosystem and without being in the edge of technology, we are not going anywhere. When we talk about digitalization, we must talk about 5G. Angola was the first country in Africa to deploy 4G, and for sure we are ready for 5G, there’s market for that. It is just a matter of finding the right business opportunity to initiate deployment. We have fiber across the entire country provided by operators like Unitel, Angola Telecom and MST, that can easily provide the necessary backhaul for 5G.