Partly Free
A Obstacles to Access 12 25
B Limits on Content 28 35
C Violations of User Rights 19 40
Last Year's Score & Status
61 100 Partly Free
Scores are based on a scale of 0 (least free) to 100 (most free). See the research methodology and report acknowledgements.

header1 Overview

Internet freedom in Angola declined during the coverage period. Although internet service from the country’s largest telecommunications provider stabilized, the country’s poor infrastructure continues to hinder users’ ability to access the internet consistently and without disruption. The government does not use technical methods to censor content, but the recent issuance of lengthy prison terms for critical online expression and the intimidation of independent media have reinstated an environment of fear which limits public discussion of governance issues. Mis- and disinformation from political parties proliferated on social media around the general election in August 2022, and the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) used networks of fake accounts to boost its engagement ahead of the vote. An ongoing economic crisis has affected the viability of some online media outlets. The government’s perceived ability to monitor and intercept the data and communications of Angolan citizens is a major concern.

Angola has been ruled by the same party since independence, and authorities have systematically repressed political dissent. Corruption, due process violations, and abuses by security forces remain common. An initial easing of some restrictions on the press and civil society following President João Lourenço’s election in 2017 has been backtracked, and challenges persist.

header2 Key Developments, June 1, 2022 - May 31, 2023

  • Unitel, the country’s largest telecommunications provider, stabilized its service in 2022 after suffering multiple disruptions due to equipment malfunctions during the previous coverage period (see A1).
  • The Angolan state took full ownership of Unitel during the coverage period, following a legal battle with the daughter of the country’s former president (see A4).
  • The ruling party reportedly used fake accounts to increase interaction with official accounts on social networks during the electoral period in August 2022 (see B5).
  • Two prominent activists were handed lengthy prison sentences during the coverage period for their online activity, and three ordinary social media users were arrested for posts that allegedly caused outrage against the president (see C3).
  • Camunda News, a popular independent video news streaming website, stopped broadcasting in March 2023 due to frequent harassment by the authorities, according to its owner (see B2 and C7).

A Obstacles to Access

A1 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Do infrastructural limitations restrict access to the internet or the speed and quality of internet connections? 2.002 6.006

Score Change: The score improved from 1 to 2 due to fewer disruptions in internet access at Unitel, the country’s largest telecommunications provider.

Access to the internet in Angola remains very poor but has been steadily improving. The National Institute of Telecommunications (INACOM), the country’s telecommunications regulator, counted 9.35 million mobile internet subscribers and nearly 740,000 fixed-line internet subscribers in December 2022.1 DataReportal’s Digital 2023 report indicated an internet penetration rate of 32.6 percent.2

The total number of mobile phone users reached 22 million in the third quarter of 2022, representing an addition of 7.3 million new subscriptions when compared to the same period in 2021, according to INACOM data.3 According to the 2021 edition of the GSM Association’s Mobile Connectivity Index, 90 percent of the Angolan population was covered by third-generation (3G) wireless network access, while the mobile broadband penetration figure stood at 39 percent.4

The leading causes of complaints from internet users are lack of internet signal, network instability, and high prices, according to providers.5

According to internet speeds aggregator Ookla, as of January 2023, Luanda had an estimated download speed of 22.45 megabits per second (Mbps) and an upload speed of 9.83 Mbps on mobile connections, and an estimated download speed of 15.82 Mbps and an upload speed of 4.50 Mbps for fixed-line connections.6 These estimated download speeds are about half the global average for mobile and one-fifth for fixed-line connections.

Unitel services were disrupted several times between 2021 and mid-2022, reportedly due to equipment failures.7 Unitel’s service was more reliable and stable during the current coverage period.

In December 2021, Unitel expanded its fourth-generation (4G) services.8 The Unitel North Submarine Cable opened in February 2023 and connects the provinces of Cabinda and Zaire through two routes, allowing the provision of high-speed mobile or fixed telecommunications services, improving access to the internet.9

Unitel launched the first commercial network using fifth-generation (5G) technology in Angola in December 2022, with speeds ranging from 10 to 200 Mbps and prices ranging from 15,000 to 125,000 Angolan kwanzas (approximately $30 to $245 USD) per month. During its launch phase, the service is only available in the center of the country's capital, but it is set to expand to additional provinces in 2023.10

Still, poor infrastructure significantly hinders information and communications technology (ICT) access in the country. The country’s fractured electricity system served 73.7 percent of the urban population as of 2020,11 but only 7.3 percent of the rural population as of 201812 according to the World Bank. Power outages remain frequent.

The project to implement a National Broadband Network in Angola will be financed through a $249 million concessional loan from China, under a deal signed in January 2023.13 The network is expected to improve speeds and lower the costs of connectivity in Angola’s remote areas.14

A2 1.00-3.00 pts0-3 pts
Is access to the internet prohibitively expensive or beyond the reach of certain segments of the population for geographical, social, or other reasons? 1.001 3.003

Internet access remains prohibitively expensive for many people, especially in rural areas. The government and some private companies have made efforts to establish free wireless hotspots.

Information communication technology (ICT) access remains prohibitively expensive for the majority of Angolans, partially due to a lack of competition in the ICT industry (see A4).1

According to Cable, a UK–based telecommunications company, the average monthly cost of broadband internet service was $78.48 in 2023.2 The average cost of 1 gigabyte (GB) of mobile data was $2.33 as of April 2022.3

Prices for mobile data, call plans, and broadband internet access in Angola are high compared to neighboring countries. According to a 2021 joint study by the African Union (AU) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), only 4 percent of the population can afford 1 GB per month of data, well below the regional average of 23 percent.4 Lower-cost packages, such as those offered by Movicel and NetOne, are associated with inferior speeds and overall lower service quality.5

Poor infrastructure particularly affects rural residents, for whom voice and data services are of much lower quality and are subject to frequent cuts and extremely slow connection speeds. Due to the country’s fractured electricity system, urban areas are more likely to have connectivity (see A1).

Angola Online, a government-promoted project, has established a number of hotspots in an effort to expand internet availability and accessibility.6 In Luanda and other cities, free hotspots sponsored by private companies7 have increasingly become available in public spaces.8 Angola Online hotspots have been overwhelmed by demand and have suffered from power outages, vandalism, and budget cuts, according to the National Institute for the Promotion of the Information Society.9

AngoSat-2, a telecommunications satellite developed as a joint project between Russia and Angola, was launched in October 2022.10 In February 2023, the Angolan government began the commercialization of AngoSat-2—which will enable national and international operators to provide telecommunications services in the country—with the goal of offering more competitive prices for service and expanding access in offline areas.11

A3 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Does the government exercise technical or legal control over internet infrastructure for the purposes of restricting connectivity? 5.005 6.006

No restrictions on connectivity to fixed-line or mobile phone networks were reported during the coverage period. The Angolan government’s indirect control of telecommunications infrastructure via state-owned Angola Telecom and Unitel, which was nationalized during the coverage period (see A4), may enable the government to partially control internet connectivity, if desired.1

Angola is connected to the international internet through the West Africa Cable System (WACS), which is owned by Angola Cables; the South Atlantic 3 (SAT-3) cable, which is operated by Angola Telecom; the Main One cable; and WASACE Angola, a planned system of submarine communications cables with connections on multiple continents. Angola Cables is a consortium of Angolan service providers; Angola Telecom and Unitel hold the largest stakes, respectively owning 51 percent and 31 percent.2 Angola Cables manages ANGONIX, the country’s internet exchange point (IXP).3 The consortium is also responsible for the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) (see A1).

According to a 2019 World Bank report, Angola Telecom also controls 12,000 kilometers (7,450 miles) of the 22,000 kilometers (13,670 miles) of fiber-optic cables in the country.4

A4 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Are there legal, regulatory, or economic obstacles that restrict the diversity of service providers? 3.003 6.006

The state is still the main shareholder in Angola’s main service providers, despite government plans to reduce the state’s presence in the sector. Politicians, government allies, and state-owned oil company Sonangol can exert some control on the ICT sector through direct and indirect ownership of shares in internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile service providers.

Unitel and Africell are the biggest providers of mobile internet service, holding 70 and 25 percent of the mobile subscriptions market, respectively.1 Sonangol owns 3 of the country’s 18 ISPs (MSTelcom, Nexus, and ACS); is a major shareholder in Angola Cables; and controls 50 percent of Unitel, the country’s largest ISP.2 Angola Telecom owns 51 percent of Angola Cables and provides their own internet services.3 The two undersea cables that connect Angola to the internet are managed by Angola Cables (see A3); critics argue this gives the company a de facto monopoly on internet provision to telecommunications companies, squeezing prices for consumers upward.4

In August 2019, the government introduced a plan to sell numerous state holdings, including service providers. MSTelcom, NetOne, Unitel, TV Cabo Angola, and Multitel were set to be privatized. As of April 2023, Multitel was marked for initial public offering (IPO) in 2023.5 In late 2020, the president authorized an IPO of 49 percent of its stake in TV Cabo, the main fixed-line broadband provider in the country.6 As of May 2023, the government was set to start the privatization process of TV Cabo that year, and the process for MS Telecom in 2024.7

In January 2022, the 25 percent stake of Unitel owned by GENI SARL, an entity reportedly owned by General Leopoldino do Nascimento, a loyalist of former president José Eduardo dos Santos, was reportedly seized by authorities.8 In December 2020, a court in the Virgin Islands transferred the assets of Vidatel, a holding company incorporated in the country by Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the former president, to judicial administrators. Through Vidatel, dos Santos controlled a 25 percent stake in Unitel.9 Following a legal battle with Isabel dos Santos, the Angolan state took full ownership of Unitel in 2022.10 Subsequently, the Institute for the Management of State Assets and Participations (IGAPE) launched the reprivatization process of UNITEL in a competitive market, led by a joint working group.11 In May 2023, officials announced that Unitel’s privatization process would begin that year.12

In December 2021, Angola Telecom announced that it would transfer its mobile telecommunications networks to private companies by November 2022.13 In December 2022, the government handed over the entire transmission network infrastructure of Angola Telecom as part of a 15-year contract with a consortium led by Gemcorp,14 a London-based investment company founded by individuals with ties to a Russian state-owned weapons manufacturer.15 Prior to the deal, Angola Telecom was under the threat of financial collapse.16 In June 2023, after the end of the coverage period, the government announced that it had abandoned its plans to privatize Angola Telecom, and would instead restructure the company.17

The National Social Security Institute (INPS), a state agency, bought 25 percent of Movicel in 2019, becoming the second-largest shareholder after Lello International, which owns a 38 percent stake.18 Under a 2019 agreement, Vodafone is now in charge of Movicel’s operational management. Movicel is now majority owned by the state.19

Africell Holding SAL was licensed as Angola’s fourth telecommunications operator in March 2020, 20 and successfully tested its network in December 2021.21 Africell entered the Angolan market with an aggressive marketing and pricing policy, offering free in-network calls and a 1 GB data package for 750 kwanzas ($1.30).22 Africell claims to have gained five million Angolan subscribers in its first six months of service.23 According to INACOM, it reached a 15 percent market share in 2022, ahead of Movicel (7 percent) and behind Unitel (78 percent).24 Africell introduced eSIM (embedded Subscriber Identity Module) in Angola in 2022,25 which is expected to increase competition among service providers.26

The 2017 Law on Electronic Communications further enhances the government’s ability to control the country’s ICT sector.27 On paper, the law aims to ensure that ICTs in Angola are developed to play a fundamental role in ensuring citizens’ universal access to information, transparency in the public sector, and participatory democracy. It also sets broader goals of poverty alleviation, competitiveness, productivity, employment, and consumer rights.28 However, the law also contains a broadly worded clause allowing the head of government to “intervene” if ISPs jeopardize “social functions” or “gravely compromise the rights of subscribers or users.”29

A5 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do national regulatory bodies that oversee service providers and digital technology fail to operate in a free, fair, and independent manner? 1.001 4.004

Angola’s powerful ruling party, the MPLA, maintains effective control of regulatory bodies.

The Ministry of Telecommunications, Information Technologies, and Social Communication (MTTICS) is responsible for oversight of the ICT sector. INACOM, established in 1999, serves as the sector’s regulatory body. In this capacity, it determines industry policies, sets prices for telecommunications services, and issues licenses. INACOM is, on paper, an independent public institution with both financial and administrative autonomy from the ministry. In practice, its autonomy is fairly limited.1 Its director general is appointed by the government and can be dismissed for any reason.2 In addition, the MTTICS can influence staff appointments.

Under the Lourenço administration, INACOM has exercised its regulatory powers more assertively, primarily in containing consumer price increases by telecommunications operators.3

B Limits on Content

B1 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Does the state block or filter, or compel service providers to block or filter, internet content, particularly material that is protected by international human rights standards? 6.006 6.006

Despite a history of censorship in print and broadcast media, there have been no known incidents of the government blocking or filtering online content in Angola, and there are no restrictions on the types of information that can be exchanged through digital media technologies. A set of media laws that took effect in 2017 has been criticized as restrictive, but no websites have been censored under their provisions to date (see C1). Social media and communications apps, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and international blog-hosting services, are freely available.

B2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do state or nonstate actors employ legal, administrative, or other means to force publishers, content hosts, or digital platforms to delete content, particularly material that is protected by international human rights standards? 3.003 4.004

There were no public reports of forced content removal during the coverage period, though informal government demands on users to remove content from the internet have been documented periodically, and levers of informal economic coercion such as gifts and bribes influence what content is published online.

Reports have indicated that individuals at some smaller, underfunded newspapers have accepted bribes to remove reporting or to write poorly substantiated stories about government personalities, including the president.1 During the coverage period, authorities regularly harassed the employees of an independent online news website (see C7), leading the site to suspend its broadcasting.

In August 2021, an article by the anticorruption website Maka Angola covering corruption in the dos Santos family was targeted by a fraudulent content removal request. The digital media foundation Qurium, which provides web-hosting services to Maka Angola, reported receiving a notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that purported to be from the Portuguese news portal, which had re-posted the Maka Angola article; the impersonator claimed that Maka Angola had copied the article from its site and was thus committing a copyright violation. Qurium did not comply with the notice.2

B3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do restrictions on the internet and digital content lack transparency, proportionality to the stated aims, or an independent appeals process? 4.004 4.004

While some Angolan laws applicable to the digital sphere contain harsh restrictions, in practice these have not been enforced on websites or users.

In January 2017, the government implemented new media laws known as the Social Communication Legislative Package. The package included the new Press Law and created a regulatory body with the power to ban websites (see C1). Article 10 of the Press Law states that “all social communication media” have the responsibility to inform citizens “in accordance with the public interest.” Article 7 sets limits to the exercise of freedom of the press, including on the internet, with several broad provisions.1 Critics say these effectively enable the government to control and censor critical information posted on social media or elsewhere online.

B4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do online journalists, commentators, and ordinary users practice self-censorship? 3.003 4.004

Self-censorship has been pervasive and commonly practiced by journalists at both state-run and private print outlets, though bloggers and social media users were less reluctant to express criticism of the president and ruling party.

A crackdown on the media during earlier coverage periods sharpened self-censorship, including for online journalists. During the current coverage period, the owner of TV Camunda, an online news channel, announced that the outlet would stop broadcasting due to pressure from the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) and feelings of insecurity faced by the entire team (See C7).1 Amid mass antigovernment protests in October 2020, numerous journalists were arrested, detained, or beaten while reporting.2

Friends of Angola, a US–based advocacy organization, has warned that the Angolan government and intelligence services’ monitoring of activists and independent media is contributing to increased self-censorship.3

B5 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are online sources of information controlled or manipulated by the government or other powerful actors to advance a particular political interest? 2.002 4.004

Score Change: This score declined from 3 to 2 because of the use of bots to bolster the ruling party´s social networks during the electoral campaign period.

Government efforts to manipulate online content are still sporadically reported. During the election period, some independent online news outlets reported receiving regular calls from government officials directing them to tone down criticism or refrain from reporting on certain issues.1

Political parties spread disinformation online ahead of the August 2022 elections, attributing false statements or manipulating quotes from presidential and vice presidential candidates from the MPLA and the opposition National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).2 The use of fake accounts to increase interaction with the ruling party’s official accounts on social networks during the electoral period was reported by multiple users and activists. Independent sources verified that randomly generated fake accounts on Facebook had been used to add favorable reactions and interactions with the president’s official account at a time during the campaign period when the ruling party was trailing the opposition in online activity. It was reported that a foreign company may have assisted the MPLA in bolstering online interaction.3 Research from the Stanford Internet Observatory in August 2022 found that a network of inauthentic Facebook and Instagram accounts that posted pro-MPLA content and criticized UNITA were linked to MindForce, an Israeli public relations firm. An employee of the company publicly disclosed that the Angolan government was a MindForce client.4

Members of the ruling MPLA own and tightly control a majority of the country’s media outlets, including those that are the most widely disseminated and accessed. State-controlled media largely relay progovernment content. In September 2021, the main state-owned television channels announced they would no longer cover the leading opposition party, UNITA, after UNITA allegedly threatened their journalists during an antigovernment march.5 Members of opposition parties and youth activists in the province of Cabinda, where several independence and autonomy movements are active, remain excluded from state media programs, including online.6

Of the main dozen or so privately owned newspapers, most are held by individuals connected to the government.

In 2021, UNITA accused the government of spreading false information about the party and party’s president on social media.7 Another opposition party, the Broad Convergence for the Salvation of Angola–Electoral Coalition (CASA-CE), made similar claims in March 2021.8 Analysts suggest that such campaigns may be coordinated by the Angolan intelligence services and presidential advisors.9

Russian disinformation and misinformation campaigns on social media have been identified in Angola.10 After Russian forces launched their full-scale military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, pro-Russian disinformation relating to the conflict and statements denigrating the leadership of Ukraine and of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states—which emanated from the Portuguese-language service of Russian state outlet Sputnik—spread on major messaging services.11

B6 1.00-3.00 pts0-3 pts
Are there economic or regulatory constraints that negatively affect users’ ability to publish content online? 2.002 3.003

Both state agencies and private sector actors often deny advertising revenue to media outfits that criticize the political-military elite. In December 2021, Radio Despertar, a Luanda-based radio station that also streams its programs online,1 accused Movicel of pulling its advertisements from the station because of its critical coverage of the government, which had allegedly caused discontent among MPLA–affiliated shareholders in the company.2

Separately, a severe economic crisis has led to financial constraints at numerous outlets, and reports of wage arrears and layoffs are frequent.3

B7 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Does the online information landscape lack diversity and reliability? 3.003 4.004

As a result of low rates of ICT access, radio, television, and print outlets remain the primary sources of information for the majority of Angolans. Both online and traditional media suffer from some degree of government interference, especially those with ties to the MPLA, which limits the diversity of accessible viewpoints (see B5).

The main sources of alternative and independent online news in Angola include Club-K and Maka Angola. Outlets funded by foreign governments, including Portuguese news agency Lusa, Voice of America (VOA), French broadcaster Radio France Internationale (RFI), and Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) Africa, are also widely read.

Many independent newspapers are at risk, especially those that have lacked the resources to shift online during the economic crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis exacerbated the closure of independent print media, prompting some journalists to turn to online publishing.1

False information, often unsourced or wrongfully credited to reliable media, is increasingly common, especially on messaging platforms. Mis- and disinformation originating from Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik continued to be disseminated widely during the coverage period.

While the online information landscape represents an increasing variety of groups and viewpoints across the country, the lack of connectivity in rural areas hampers regional and ethnic representation. The effective decriminalization of same-sex relations in January 2019 has enabled freer online discussion of issues affecting LGBT+ people.

B8 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Do conditions impede users’ ability to mobilize, form communities, and campaign, particularly on political and social issues? 5.005 6.006

While occasional arrests of protesters and online activists have muted digital activism and mobilization in the past, use of social media to mobilize support for various causes has become more common in recent years. Mobilization platforms are freely available to users, and citizens criticize the government and react to alleged wrongdoings within Angola’s lively social media environment. Youth groups in particular have increasingly flocked to Facebook to call out government corruption, reflecting a slight weakening of the environment of fear within civil society.1

Social media and messaging apps, like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp, are frequently used to mobilize protests or launch campaigns. With access to social networks growing, these platforms became a center of political dispute between parties and their supporters during the 2022 electoral period, with various reports of disinformation circulating (See B5).2 During the previous coverage period, activists launched a social media campaign to share suspicions regarding the hospital care Manuel Chivonde Nito Alves, a prominent Angolan activist, received after he was beaten during an antigovernment demonstration.3

Activists consider livestreaming and messaging as effective tools to record evidence of police brutality, as security forces often repress demonstrations with disproportionate force. For instance, videos shared through WhatsApp during protests in late 2020 and January 2021 show police using live ammunition against protesters. Influential activist Luaty Beirão was arrested in November 2020 while livestreaming on Facebook as he peacefully marched to a protest site.4

C Violations of User Rights

C1 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Do the constitution or other laws fail to protect rights such as freedom of expression, access to information, and press freedom, including on the internet, and are they enforced by a judiciary that lacks independence? 2.002 6.006

The Angolan constitution provides for freedom of expression and the press, and the 2011 Law on Electronic Communications and Information Company Services provides for citizens’ rights to privacy and security online, among other provisions regulating internet use and services.

Nevertheless, Angolan laws also include problematic language that may infringe on internet freedom (see C2).1 In January 2017, former president dos Santos enacted a set of media laws known as the Social Communication Legislative Package, which included a Press Law, Television Law, Broadcast Law, Journalists’ Code of Conduct, and statutes to establish the Angolan Regulatory Body for Social Communication (ERCA). The latter body was created to regulate journalists’ conduct and investigate producers of online content without judicial oversight; it has the power to suspend or ban websites that fail to abide by its standards of “good journalism.”2

Meanwhile, the judiciary is subject to considerable influence from the ruling political-military elite, with Supreme Court justices appointed to life terms by the president and without legislative input. President Lourenço’s 2021 revisions to the constitution, which changed the hierarchy of the country’s top courts, was sharply criticized by members of the judiciary as a breach of judicial independence, including by the presiding judge of the Constitutional Court, Manuel Aragão.3 Aragão was replaced shortly after by a new presiding judge, Laurinda Cardoso, the former secretary of state for territorial administration and an MPLA party member.4

C2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are there laws that assign criminal penalties or civil liability for online activities, particularly those that are protected under international human rights standards? 1.001 4.004

Stringent laws regarding state security and defamation run counter to constitutional guarantees. Article 26 of the 2010 State Security Law penalizes individuals who insult the country or president in “public meetings or by disseminating words, images, writings, or sound” with prison sentences of up to three years.1

The penal code that took effect in February 2021 criminalizes “insults” against the president and contains articles specifically pertaining to media activity.2 These include fines and up to six months’ imprisonment for “abuse of press freedom,” which can encompass incitement, the dissemination of hate speech, and the defense of fascist or racist ideologies. The measure also covers those who disseminate texts, images, or sounds obtained by fraudulent means, as well as those who intentionally publish false information. Under the 2021 code, individuals who insult someone through the media can be fined and sentenced to up to six months in prison; people charged with defamation can draw fines and a prison sentence as long as one year.

Computer crimes are also included in the new code, which, for instance, punishes illegitimate access of information systems. Article 444 stipulates that “if access is achieved by breach of security rules or if it has been carried out to a protected service, the penalty is from two to eight years’ imprisonment.”3

C3 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Are individuals penalized for online activities, particularly those that are protected under international human rights standards? 3.003 6.006

Score Change: This score declined from 4 to 3 because of the arrest of three social media users for allegedly insulting and spreading false information about the president.

Journalists and activists are subject to prosecution in Angola, and cases were lodged against members of the press and civil society during the coverage period.

In January 2022, Lucas Augusto da Silva Campos (also known as Luther King) was arrested and detained at his home for allegedly engaging in vandalism during that month’s taxi drivers’ strike in Luanda.1 In March 2022, prosecutors in the capital indicted Campos for crimes including public instigation, criminal association, and rebellion. The evidence for these charges were statements in videos obtained from Campos’s social media accounts, which were monitored by the Criminal Investigation Service.2 The government conducted the monitoring under Article 333 of the penal code, which allows the intelligence services to monitor the social media activity of anyone in the country (see C2).3 In February 2023, Campos was sentenced to 22 months in prison for public instigation, and ordered to pay 100,000 kwanzas ($198) in court fees and 500,000 kwanzas ($991) in compensation to the state.4 Campos’s prison sentence was suspended for five years due to his serious illness, on the condition that he not commit similar crimes.

Another activist, Gilson Moreira da Silva ("Ta Naice Neutro"), has also faced prolonged detention after being arrested while livestreaming a visit to a Luanda prison hospital to show Luther King´s situation in January 2022.5 He was put on trial for rebellion and resisting the security forces in October 2022 and found guilty; he was issued a 15-month suspended sentence.6 Although a judge called for his immediate release due to health concerns, as of the end of the coverage period, he remained in prison without adequate medical care.7

Journalists also are investigated and sometimes charged with criminal defamation based on complaints regarding their online reporting. In September 2021, Carlos Alberto, editor of A Denúncia, was charged with “criminal defamation, injurious denunciation, and violating press freedom”; Luis Liz, a deputy attorney general, filed a complaint after A Denúncia covered an allegedly illegal land transaction on Liz’s part. Alberto received a two-year prison term and a fine of 110 million kwanzas ($172,000), a sentence that would be rescinded if Alberto apologized via Facebook and A Denúncia every 5 days within a 45-day period. Alberto appealed and lost; the length of the suspended prison sentence was increased from two to three years, but the fine was decreased to 1.5 million ($3,451) kwanzas.8

Three users of social networks were arrested in September 2022 for their online activities. Two were arrested for posting a video on TikTok criticizing purported embezzlement in the construction of the new international airport and alleging that the president was profiting personally;9 the third person was arrested for posting a false announcement of the president’s death.10

C4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Does the government place restrictions on anonymous communication or encryption? 3.003 4.004

There are no reports of substantial restrictions on encryption. SIM card registration is mandatory, however, and hampers the ability of mobile phone users to communicate anonymously. SIM cards must be registered directly with INACOM, the ICT regulator that operates under government oversight. The process requires an identity card or driver’s license and tax card for national citizens, or a passport with a valid visa for visitors.1

Africell introduced eSIM in Angola in 2022,2 which is expected to increase competition among service providers (See A4).3 However, the adoption of eSIM could also enable carriers to trace location data more easily, as an embedded SIM cannot be removed from mobile phones or other devices the way physical SIM cards can.4

C5 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Does state surveillance of internet activities infringe on users’ right to privacy? 2.002 6.006

The government’s ability to monitor and intercept the data and communications of Angolan citizens without adequate oversight is a major concern, particularly among human rights activists and journalists. The full extent of the government’s surveillance capabilities and practices is unknown, though recent developments suggest that the government plans to expand its surveillance capacity.

In January 2021, UNITA claimed that its communications were being monitored by state intelligence. As evidence, they cited content of WhatsApp messages sent between UNITA president Adalberto Costa Júnior and the president of Guinea-Bissau about an upcoming meeting, which surfaced in state-aligned online media.1

In June 2020, reports emerged that Angolan intelligence services had purchased Pegasus spyware, which allows clients to compromise devices and monitor communications, from the Israeli technology company NSO Group.2 Pegasus was known to have abused vulnerabilities in WhatsApp, the dominant messaging app in Angola that is widely used by journalists, activists, and opposition politicians.

A law that permits law enforcement to conduct electronic surveillance and location tracking with minimal oversight came into force in May 2020. The law authorizes the public prosecutor’s office, the National Police, and judges to order and deploy surveillance technology, including spyware and telecommunications interception, in a broad range of circumstances. It prohibits surveillance on political grounds or on the basis of discriminatory motivation.3 Though it is not yet clear how the law has been applied, Angolans worry it provides legal coverage for existing surveillance practices, with little or no competent oversight of security forces’ use of invasive technology.4

In December 2019, the government opened the Integrated Center for Public Security (CISP), a surveillance data integration center operated by state security forces, in Luanda. The government has since opened centers in four major provinces and is prepared to open another center in 2023.5 The initiative is backed by Chinese funding along with technology from Huawei.6

Investigations have revealed increased engagement with the Chinese government on surveillance methods.7 According to 2017 research by the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law, there is strong suspicion that Chinese companies were providing support to the government’s signals intelligence program on mobile phones and the internet, which aimed to target human rights organizations and defenders as well as grassroots social movements.8

C6 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Does monitoring and collection of user data by service providers and other technology companies infringe on users’ right to privacy? 3.003 6.006

Strong state influence in the ownership structure of Angola’s telecommunications companies, particularly mobile service providers, suggests that the authorities are likely able to require service providers to assist in the monitoring of communications.1 Such interweaving of political and business interests through family connections is compounded by the lack of rule of law in the country.

The 2017 Law on Protection of Information Networks and Systems mandates that telecommunications operators store traffic and location data for the “investigation, detection and repression of crimes.” Article 37 requires the approval of a magistrate for the interception of communications by the security services.2 Article 22 mandates that service providers allow the prosecutor general or a magistrate access to data, including location data, or systems storing information considered “evidence.”3 Article 23 requires telecommunications operators to store all data for at least one year.

  • 1Interviews conducted by Freedom House. For instance, the top adviser to the head of the Intelligence Bureau at the Presidency, General Leopoldino do Nascimento, is also the chairman and shareholder of Unitel. Meanwhile, the head of the Intelligence Bureau, General Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias “Kopelipa,” holds a majority share (about 59 percent) in Movicel. The deputy CEO and Chief Technology Officer of Unitel, Amílcar Safeca, is the brother of Aristides Safeca, the secretary of ICTs who in turn is a shareholder of Movicel.
  • 2“Diário da República, I Série no. 27 de 16 de Fevereiro de 2017 [Diary of the Republic, series I number 27, February 16, 2017],” Decree from the President of Angola, February 16, 2017,
  • 3Diário da República, I Série no. 27 de 16 de Fevereiro de 2017 [Diary of the Republic, series I number 27, February 16, 2017],” Decree from the President of Angola, February 16, 2017,
C7 1.00-5.00 pts0-5 pts
Are individuals subject to extralegal intimidation or physical violence by state authorities or any other actor in relation to their online activities? 3.003 5.005

Score Change: This score declined from 4 to 3 because the authorities frequently harassed and intimidated the owner and employees of an independent news website, leading it to suspend broadcasting.

Online activists and journalists are sporadically targeted with threats, though they face less violence and harassment than journalists who operate mainly in the traditional media sphere. No incidents of severe violence for online activities were noted during this report’s coverage period.

In July 2022, however, an MPLA supporter attempted to physically attack Isabel Makitoko, a reporter for TV Maiombe, an online news platform, while she was covering an event organized by the opposition National Patriotic Alliance (APN).1

Camunda News, a popular independent video news streaming website, stopped broadcasting in March 2023 due to frequent harassment by the authorities. The outlet’s owner, David Boio, said that feelings of insecurity had affected the entire organization following visits from the SIC. Boio and Camunda News employees were brought in for police questioning multiple times following the appearance of an outspoken government critic on a program broadcast on the Camunda News YouTube channel. Boio described pressures from the SIC as an attempt to shut down Camunda News by creating fear among its employees, because there was not enough of a case for the authorities to formally close the outlet.2

Women and LGBT+ people face online harassment in Angola. Since the February 2019 decriminalization of same-sex conduct, fewer incidents of harassment against LGBT+ people have been reported.

C8 1.00-3.00 pts0-3 pts
Are websites, governmental and private entities, service providers, or individual users subject to widespread hacking and other forms of cyberattack? 2.002 3.003

In 2022, Angola Cables reported that Angola experienced the second-highest number of cyberattacks in Africa, citing data from web security and content-delivery firm Cloudflare.1 Mobile phones and banking apps are often targeted.2

In February 2023, Grupo Visabeira Angola was targeted by a cyberattack that disrupted services for a day.3 Banco Sol was also targeted by a cyberattack a few days later.4 Both attacks appear to have been the work of cybercriminals targeting companies and demanding ransom.

The Ministry of Finance’s servers were hacked in February 2021, with email accounts and shared folders penetrated by unknown individuals. The ministry reported that no services were interrupted; it declined to confirm reports of a ransomware case or release information on the extent of the data breach.5 In September 2020, the website of the online news outlet Correio Angolense crashed in response to an apparent DDoS attack after publishing a report alleging that President Lourenço’s chief of staff had embezzled millions of dollars in public funds. Simon Casimiro, a journalist who worked on the story, also experienced a cyberattack.6

On Angola

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  • Global Freedom Score

    28 100 not free
  • Internet Freedom Score

    59 100 partly free
  • Freedom in the World Status

    Not Free
  • Networks Restricted

  • Websites Blocked

  • Pro-government Commentators

  • Users Arrested