Africa’s most interconnected company TEY_post_Angelo-GAMA

We want to be regarded as the most international Angolan company.

Ângelo GAMA CEO ANGOLA CABLES

Africa’s most interconnected company

February 28, 2024

Ângelo Gama, CEO of Angola Cables, talks to The Energy Year about the company’s role as a pioneering interconnected player in Angola with an international reach and the growing importance of data centres in its offering. Angola Cables is a global provider of internet connectivity, data centres and digital services.

What is the significance of Angola Cables being an exporter of Angolan technology to the world?
Angola Cables’ internet is the best in Africa. We are the most interconnected company on the continent. 70% of Africa’s connectivity passes through an Angola Cables network point, and we are the only African company in the top 100 in the global interconnectivity ranking, where we ranked 33rd.
I believe we are the first Angolan company to sell technology outside the country. And now, we are also selling software developed in Angola to the external market.
Every year, we keep reinvesting in the company, growing the business and growing the reach of our network. We keep on growing, keep on developing and keep on adding new technology to our existing infrastructure.
In Africa, exporting natural resources is one of the most significant economic drivers. However, at Angola Cables, we have moved beyond that, and we’re now exporting technology to big international players such as Microsoft, Meta, Amazon and Google that have believed in us since the beginning and continue to do so.

How important are data centres and IT solutions services within your core connectivity offering?
When you’re in a business like ours – our main businesses are wholesale, transmission and internet – quality of service is just not enough. Every company in our field offers quality of service, so we needed to add something more on top of that. Now, we bring in value-added services, such as data centres and IT solutions, so that we won’t be fighting based solely on price in highly competitive markets.
We started by constructing two data centres on both ends of our own Atlantic submarine fibre cable, which links Africa to America (our SACS submarine cable), and then we grew to interconnect the main 66 data centres in the world while also providing security and content access.
We have our “clouds2many” solutions in Angola, Brazil and South Africa, and next year we’ll deploy it in Nigeria. Our solution is linked to more than 500 cloud nodes across the globe. We plan to add more services on top of our cloud offer, including backup, disaster recovery, Kubernetes and bare metal. Customers will have all our connectivity plus the cloud services on top of that.
We will start offering software as a service, as of 2024, directly. Customers won’t need to spend a lot on capex, and they can transform whatever they have into opex-oriented services with us, paying only a monthly fee in the local currency to have the software they need on their business suite.
In 2023, we also started two new data centre projects, one in Angola and the other in Brazil. These represent a total combined investment of about USD 70 million.

How important are international revenue streams for Angola Cables?
It’s becoming increasingly important. We aim to have at least 80% of our revenue streams coming from outside Angola in five years’ time. By doing that, we’ll be able to serve our country with the most reduced prices that will truly make internet a commodity here in Angola. In 2024, we hope to attain a balanced revenue stream, with 50% coming from outside and 50% coming from Angola.

 

How would you describe the company’s contribution to Angola’s energy industry?
We have room to do more than we’re currently doing for the energy industry. We have made our oil-and-gas-focused product by studying the most valued services for oil companies in terms of connectivity, data centres, the cloud, managed services SLA [service-level agreements], with automated analysis and business cases aligned with their usual agile processes. They buy what they effectively need at the right price, and it is well adapted for procurements with managed services for connectivity, the cloud, last-mile access and security, all from a single global provider.
We have the international connectivity that the oil operators ask for. We’re directly connected with the lowest latency to Lagos, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, Houston and Aberdeen. We already have some oil companies buying some of our services, but we believe we could do more for the industry here in Angola.
That’s why we aim to partner with UNITEL, who has a submarine cable running from Luanda to Cabinda which can reach the rigs directly. By partnering with UNITEL, we’ll be able to provide one closed solution that will take all the oil production data from the rigs all the way to Houston or Aberdeen using UNITEL’s local submarine cable and our international submarine cables.
Regarding the digitalisation of the oil rigs, it is important that Houston and Aberdeen can oversee operations in real time with the lowest latency possible. They should even be able to look at cameras and remotely control operations by using the submarine infrastructure that Angola already has. We have the infrastructure in place already so no huge investment from the government is required to serve our main source of income, the oil sector.

Tell us about Angola Cables’ efforts to decarbonise operations.
In Brazil, we are part of an organisation called Green Internet. We don’t use anything in our network or equipment there that does not come from a green or renewable source. We make sure that, when we pick up kits to buy, nothing harmful was used in the making of that equipment – and that comes with a price, of course. You can only buy from bigger brands, the ones that can guarantee that the whole manufacturing process is green and that everything inside the kit is recyclable.
Unfortunately, with the submarine cables that we have, we cannot directly use any renewable energy in Angola. There are no solar panels on our cable landing station because the power consumption is so high that there isn’t sufficient space for them. But in Brazil, carbon-free energy is already available, and that is what we are using there. We want to keep investing in green energy as it represents a sustainable way forward for us. Customers increasingly demand sustainable operations, and we must be at the forefront.

How is Angola Cables looking at financing its new data centre projects?
Being a wholesaler doesn’t provide much in terms of margins. We sell a lot, but with tiny margins. Now that we have a name in the market and people know us, I think it’s time for us to make the jump to other markets with better margins.
For the data centres, for instance, we are looking at partnerships. For the new data centre here in Angola we have a partner we are closing a deal with. International operators of data centres around the world want to come to Angola. We aim to finalise the deal and begin construction in 2024.

What is your vision for the company’s future?
In the future, we will be a digital service provider, but not just that: we want to be regarded as the most international Angolan company, even more than function echoPub() {document.getElementById('pub').innerHTML="

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