Africa’s key telecom operators and investment firms are set to deepen their investments in digital and broadband infrastructure in 2019. In fact, this has been marked as one of their top priorities for 2019.
According to Seacom, a submarine communications cable operator with a network of high-speed fibre-optic cables that serve the East and West coasts of Africa, Fibre penetration is still very low in most African countries.
As such, huge opportunities exist to get involved in the rollout of intra-regional projects, national projects, and even international subsea infrastructure projects.
“The global cloud services companies are now putting Africa on their development roadmap, and committing significant investment to several African markets,” explains Seacom CEO, Byron Clatterbuck.
His sentiments come at a time when industry leaders, including telecommunication firm, MTN, C-Squared, Seacom and capital market firm, Convergence Partners are set to meet at a high-profile event dubbed TMT Finance Africa in Cape Town, South Africa on March 28.
Over 75 key speakers have been announced for the event, which features senior executives from Vodacom, Rand Merchant Bank, Vumatel, Helios Towers Africa, Angola Cables, Standard Bank, IFC, The World Bank, The European Investment Bank, Investec Asset Management and GreenWish Partners among others.
TMT Finance, a company that focuses on telecoms and investment information, states that with a huge and increasing demand for data and increasing opportunities for 5G services and fibre, digital communications companies, digital infrastructure specialists and investors, are targeting significant investments in new digital infrastructure.
For Clatterbuck, this presents a big opportunity for other investors to leverage these investments and to cooperate with these global giants in delivering new services to the business and home markets.
Envir Fraser, CSO and Partner at Convergence Partners, an impact investment management firm focused on the telecommunications, media and technology sector in Africa, expects broadband to continue offering investment opportunities as the need for high quality broadband increases with step changes in prices.
“The needs for ‘big pipes’ to realise the 5G reality will also need increased investment in connecting towers and high sites to high-speed fibre or wireless backhaul networks”, says Fraser.
To help maintain a high level of investment, Kholekile, Ndamase, Executive for Group Mergers and Acquisitions at MTN, Africa’s biggest mobile telecommunications operator, warns that Governments should have a careful plan when considering the licensing questions such as coverage obligations versus license fees versus a fund to finance rural connectivity.
MTN’s Ndamase believes that fibre and 5G will open up a whole new experience for consumers while creating opportunities for several industry players.