Broadband Infraco, Angola Cables join forces

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 15 Nov 2018
Nihka Technology Group takes centre stage in the collaboration.
Nihka Technology Group takes centre stage in the collaboration.

Broadband Infraco has partnered with Angola Cables to facilitate Internet connectivity within SA and the rest of the continent.

This is according to Broadband Infraco, describing the move as pivotal in the development of digital connectivity in the country.

In Africa, Angola Cables has focused on the 15 member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), having established itself as the main international telecom service provider for the Angolan market.

From a South African connectivity perspective, Broadband Infraco says it has more than 14 960km of fibre networks across the country.

Broadband Infraco's main objective, according to the Broadband Infraco Act, is to expand the availability and affordability of access to electronic communications, including but not limited to under-developed and under-serviced areas.

In the past, however, the state-owned fibre-optic infrastructure company's future has been questioned, especially concerning the critical rollout of broadband services in SA.

The partnership with Angola Cables signals a turning point for Broadband Infraco, as it means the company will receive support for projects that are of national importance and which require global network connectivity, states Angola Cables CEO Antonio Nunes.

"With our international connectivity and reach through our submarine networks and the expansive terrestrial network of Broadband Infraco, there is a genuine opportunity for us to collectively fast-track connectivity on the continent.

"The very real possibility now exists to connect Brazil and South Africa to the other BRICS nations of Russia, India and China through a high-speed, low-latency connection. Such a connection, together with our robust network, will accelerate international co-operation on multiple levels, promote economic development and fast-track projects that will enable new opportunities for digital content exchange across the region."

Andrew Matseke, Broadband Infraco CEO, adds: "We have POPs [points of presence] and fibre connectivity options to all neighbouring SADC countries. Through the Angola Cables subsea networks, SACS and Monet, Broadband Infraco will have the ability to share international traffic and content that could unlock new business opportunities for SADC countries."

Repositioned mandate

To address duplication of infrastructure and mandates within its entities, the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), which oversees ICT and postal services, set out on a restructuring exercise for its entities.

Six state-owned companies report to the DTPS: Broadband Infraco, Sentech, State IT Agency (SITA), Universal Service and Access Agency of SA, National Electronic Media Institute of SA and the South African Post Office.

In terms of the restructuring, Sentech and Broadband Infraco will merge to form a state-owned ICT infrastructure company, while SITA's functions will be remodelled to establish a state-owned IT company.

In June, DTPS minister Siyabonga Cwele confirmed government has approved the framework for Broadband Infraco to consider merging with Sentech so that they can complement each other.

"As a result of convergence, the aim really is to have these companies working together and complementing each other so that they are all profitable."

Cwele added that the South African market is too small, but can be addressed by establishing strong ICT companies that will provide services to neighbouring countries in the SADC region, or even the rest of the continent.