Angola's tormented path to petro-diamond led growth

Mr. Alberto Serafim Araújo, General Manager of Mercury

Interview with Mr. A.S. Araújo
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Mercury Telecommunications Services,
Grupo Sonangol

Mr. Alberto Serafim Araújo,
General Manager

Rua do Farol das Lagostas (B. Petrangol)
P.O. Box 1316
Luanda - ANGOLA
Tel: (244 2) 633 850 / 633 859/60
Fax: (244 2) 633 888 / 334 626
Web site:

Mercury Services and Telecommunications, S.A.R.L. was created on March 21, 1997 with a paid out capital of 8 trillion Angolan Kwanzas, adjusted to 39,4 million US dollars. Its mission is to "efficiently manage, maintain and operate, the communication system of the Sonangol Group", to which it belongs.

The origin of this subsidiary goes back to the time when Sonangol started establishing its own communication services to meet the increasing needs of the Group in that field. It was necessary to maintain communications with headquarters as well as with the different regional offices, offshore oil platforms, and, with the establishment of air and sea transportation structures, with aircrafts and ships.

Mercury is a company of services and telecommunications. Its shareholders are SONANGOL EP (99%) and SONANGOL P&P (1%).

As at 31 December 2000, the company had a workforce of 37 workers, 29 men and 8 women, 5 of who are managers, 26 technicians and 6 administrative personnel.

According to Mr. Alberto Serafim Araujo, Administrator and General Manager of MERCURY, training is one of the priorities of the company, once it has fully installed its technical infrastructure.

Guaranteed Market

Having inherited the infrastructure and technology of the telecommunications services of Sonangol, MERCURY will benefit from a now fertile market since the Sonangol Group has the contractual obligation of guaranteeing its communication needs through Mercury.

MERCURY has and explores 3 kinds of duly equipped communication systems: a radio communication system, microwaves, and VSAT telephones for local and international calls.

The radio communication system has 5 sub systems that enable it to provide diversified services to the group with large possibilities of expansion into alternative markets.

One of its sub systems is composed of a fixed and mobile inter-provincial radio network, which guarantees communications from Sonangol Holding and Distribuidora, as well as the regional and provincial delegations. This HF (high frequency) system transmits land, sea and air frequencies, also providing services to Sonangol Distribuidora and to other subsidiaries such as Sonaship and Sonair, which operate in the fields of air and sea transportation.

A second network of HF radio enables the transmission of inter-provincial data. This system provides an indispensable service to the group as it transfers economic and financial data, not only guaranteeing speed but also security and efficiency.
For the past five years, Sonangol Distribuidora alone had a volume of trade estimated at 797 million US dollars. Local UHF and VHF radio networks enable land, sea and air communications. Just as for the HF system, these networks main clients are Sonangol Distribuidora, Sonaship and Sonair.

The microwave system of Luanda connects Sonangol to its subsidiaries and also enables intra communication of the latter for the transmission of data and sound.

The VSAT is the telephone system enabling local and international calls. This system ensures the Sonangol Group with the autonomy it needs in terms of voice transmissions. More than ever, it enables direct dialling to an extension, without having to go through the Angola Telecom network. This local operator gave Mercury 5,000 numbers, of which nearly 3,000 are being operated by this subsidiary of Sonangol.

With VSAT, the calls made between the different companies of the Group are processed as if they were internal calls between two extensions.

This has drastically reduced the cost of phone calls and of personnel. In the country, this system can be found in the cities of Cabinda, Soyo, Lubango, Namibe, Benguela and Sumbe, as well as in Luanda.

Another advantage of the VSAT is the availability of voice mail and video-conferencing, services that are irreplaceable in the field of oil operations.

Mercury is also the Internet provider of the Sonangol Group.


As a private telecommunications operator, one of Mercury's commercial goals is to expand beyond the natural market it gets from the Sonangol Group. Mercury's Financial Director, Mr. Diogo da Silva Manuel points out that this only consists in the commercialisation of all of Mercury's excess capacity to companies in the oil sector as well as in other sectors. This will be done shortly upon obtaining a public operator's license that the government will be putting on auction in the second quarter of 2001.

Mercury is currently providing VSAT communication services for two users in the Kwanda Base, the oil compound at Soyo, in the province of Zaire, through the Operator DLH, and should shortly ensure communications for the "Empresa Nacional de Diamantes de Angola" (Endiama) regional offices in Lucapa, North Lunda province.

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© World INvestment NEws, 2002.
This is the electronic edition of the special country report on Angola published in Forbes Global Magazine. February 18th, 2002 Issue.
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