Convergence Partners – an investment management firm focused on the telecommunications, media and technology sector in Africa – today announced the launch of the Convergence Partners Communications Infrastructure Fund (CPCIF), the only infrastructure fund that is dedicated solely to the information and communications technology (ICT) sector in Africa. With a first close of $145 million, it is one of the largest African based infrastructure funds, notwithstanding its single sector focus.
A new voluntary industry body has been launched to regulate and monitor the Wi-Fi industry in South Africa. The Wi-Fi Forum of South Africa, led by chairperson Andile Ngcaba, aimed to “create a collaborative and self-regulating body that promotes the effective use of WiFi technologies in the delivery of ubiquitous, interoperable and seamless connectivity in South Africa”.
Dimension Data’s Internet Solutions has launched a new range of products under the “IS Ignite” brand aimed at small and medium-sized businesses. The move is a response to growing demand for self-service products and allows entrepreneurs to manage their own needs, it says. “By nature, entrepreneurs are extremely hands-on and like to be autonomous,” says Internet Solutions MD Saki Missaikos.
Mark Tinka, Head of Engineering at Seacom, a Convergence Partners investee, says that telecommunications regulators and African governments need to clear away the red tape and regulatory risks around putting fibre in the ground to encourage network operators to invest in sinking fibre into the ground for terrestrial long-distance and last mile connectivity.
Investment opportunities for fellow Brics nations in infrastructure development and industrialisation in South Africa were valued at over R33-billion, or $3.5-billion, National Empowerment Fund (NEF) CEO Philisiwe Mthethwa told delegates on the opening day of the fifth yearly Brics Summit. Referring to the telecommunication sector, she said “the IDC had transactions under consideration worth $5.7-billion, which included FibreCo, a joint venture between Cell C, Convergence Partners and Dimension Data, and which was rolling out a long-haul open-access fibre-optic network”.
Convergence Partners’ Chairman, Andile Ngacba, was the keynote speaker at the inaugural FTTH Council Africa broadband conference held in Cape Town on 12 and 13 November 2012. Andile outlined the four key pillars to broadband growth viz; regulatory and policy issues; technology (especially photonics); new business models; and skills development.
Plessey, a subsidiary of Dimension Data, has been awarded a contract for equipping Emalahleni (formerly Witbank) and Middelburg with fibre optical infrastructure for broadband access by February 2013. The fibre optic infrastructure project for the towns is part of a R3,5-billion national network that is being constructed over the next several years to provide broadband access to under-serviced areas and will involve laying some 121km of optical fibre in a ring around each town and in a link that connects them.
SEACOM, a pan-African ICT enabler, plans to expand its European connectivity to Amsterdam and will be the latest partner to join the AMS-IX reselling program. Joining the program gives SEACOM the opportunity to make connectivity to the AMS-IX platform more easily available for African Internet companies. Peering and IP interconnection between African and European networks will be greatly enhanced moving forward.
FibreCo Telecommunications, a joint venture between Cell C, Convergence Partners and Internet Solutions, has passed the halfway mark of the first link of its R5-billion national fibre-optic broadband network. The company said that the construction of 600 km of the targeted 1 000 km stretch from Johannesburg, through Bloemfontein, to East London has been completed.
Broadband connectivity is becoming cheaper in many countries and it has also easier for many businesses and individuals to access the Internet. One of the biggest players in the Internet connectivity industry is Internet Solutions (IS). IT News Africa recently took advantage of the opportunity to sit down with Managing Director Saki Missaikos to find out about IS’ strategy going forward, his vision for the future and the company’s further expansion into Africa.