Andile Ngcaba’s Solcon Capital steps up satellite investment

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 11 Sept 2023
Satellite data analytics plays a crucial role in processing and interpreting data.
Satellite data analytics plays a crucial role in processing and interpreting data.

Solcon Capital, businessman Andile Ngcaba’s global investment firm, plans to intensify investments in satellite-focused companies, to provide space telecommunications services to various industries across the globe.

Convergence Partners Investments, the deep-tech investor founded by Ngcaba in 2003, rebranded to Solcon Capital in June, and is a launching an international push to empower global deep-tech growth through platform economics.

Now operating as a global firm, Solcon specialises in sourcing and investing in emerging companies that demonstrate significant growth potential in key areas − such as generative artificial intelligence (AI), AI, big data, cyber security and space technology − across SA, India, Southeast Asia and Bangalore.

In a telephone interview with ITWeb, Ngcaba notes that as part of the company’s strategy, Solcon is amplifying its focus on the satellite-based data analytics sector, to offer different types of products and services under its space technology portfolio.

“At Solcon Capital, our primary investment focus is rooted in deep-tech, a sector that is transforming the future of technology and reshaping industries worldwide,” explains Ngcaba, chairman and founder of Solcon Capital.

Its space tech division is also looking at companies involved in satellite navigation, satellite mapping and satellite data acquisition, he noted.

“We will be dealing with these technologies at a global level. Very soon, you will hear about the interesting projects Solcon Capital will be working on in Singapore, Asia and various other parts of the world.”

According to Ngcaba, satellite data analytics plays a crucial role in processing, analysing and interpreting data collected via satellite, while satellite mapping is able to produce geospatial data and information for monitoring the earth globally and provide valuable information.

“For example, technology can be used to map out and predict what the Gauteng province will look like in 2030. This is done by analysing the current population growth, housing, businesses and infrastructure, by using analytics for the planning of the future of the province.

“Satellite imagery is increasingly being used for the mapping of the ocean floor and analysing the spectral changes of the sea during the deployment of subsea fibre cables. Also, the extraction of agriculture data and weather analytics provides decision-making information on ecological issues, such as rain forests and flooding, to determine the overall impact thereof.”

While unable to disclose which companies Solcon Capital has identified so far, Ngcaba points out the company is targeting innovative and promising deep-tech satellite-focused ventures, which are established and are at growth phase.

Its current investment portfolio includes ESET Southern Africa, Inala Systems Integrator, Seacom, LifeQ and software-as-a-service provider Inquba, among others.

When asked if there are plans to also use satellite services to provide internet connectivity, Ngcaba points out that at this stage, the priority is on satellite data and analytics.

Andile Ngcaba, chairman and founder of Solcon Capital.
Andile Ngcaba, chairman and founder of Solcon Capital.

Solcon Capital has a 20-year history of innovation through investments in companies that have built undersea cables, long-haul fibre and big data. It is currently on a path to become one of the major deep-tech investment companies globally, Ngcaba adds.

Its role extends beyond being an investment vehicle, as it also seeks to become a reliable partner committed to the long-term growth of the companies it invests in, he continues.

Among other plans, Solcon is working to unveil an AI-based investment platform, called Solcon 360, in the coming months. The platform will allow investment companies to capitalise on generative AI and build custom models tailored to their investment needs, he notes.

Discussing the importance of funding African solutions, Ngcaba says the company remains firmly invested in and continues to drive the growth of current and future digital infrastructure firms across the continent through the Convergence Partners Digital Infrastructure Fund (CPDIF).

Solcon in January closed its CPDIF at $296 million (R5.1 billion), surpassing its initial target by over 18%.

In January, the private equity fund invested $10 million (R182 million) in 42Markets Group, a financial and capital markets fintech incubator and investment group,

CPDIF investments will be driven by infrastructure needs in Africa’s digital ecosystem, specifically fibre, wireless, data centres, towers, 5G, cloud, internet of things, AI, fintech and network virtualisation, across the continent, he states.

“The private equity fund continues to focus on digital infrastructure in Africa, and via its participation in the build-out of Africa’s digital infrastructure, will boost entrepreneurship, innovation, skills development and job creation across the continent.”