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Broadband Infraco intensifies capacity to platinum belt

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 03 Jul 2019
Andrew Matseke, CEO of Broadband Infraco.
Andrew Matseke, CEO of Broadband Infraco.

Broadband Infraco, the state-owned wholesale provider of choice for backhaul connectivity, says it is intensifying its Johannesburg to Botswana connectivity route through the North West, bringing extended capacity to the platinum belt.

The company says this brings hope to connecting the mining belt, as well as the North West, to their neighbouring counterparts.

Andrew Matseke, CEO of Broadband Infraco, says the state-owned firm is upgrading its capacity as well as adding redundancy for the current Botswana connection via Ramatlabama.

Infraco currently connects the borders of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho.

Matseke explains that Broadband Infraco’s regional network connectivity is implemented in such a way that it provides connectivity to all six of the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho.

Matseke says: “We are also a tier one investor in the West African Cable System (WACS), which connects South Africa to the United Kingdom, with landing stations in Portugal and 11 other countries along the West Coast of Africa. WACS provides sustainable and efficient international bandwidth and positions Africa for future economic growth, while simultaneously connecting South Africa to key global knowledge economies such as North America and Europe.”

He believes this is a growth opportunity for Broadband Infraco, as he believes more connectivity will be required, which could in-turn positively swing the fortunes of his organisation.

“Currently, we act as the gateway for international connectivity for the continent’s landlocked neighbouring countries. For example, we have a point of presence at Beitbridge that has helped enable neighbouring Zimbabwe to commission its national backbone, which is its fully redundant network, aiding them to transport broadband traffic from Beitbridge to major data centres, like the Teraco Data Centre in Isando, and to finally enable connectivity to the rest of the world,” he explains.

“We have, over the years, as an anchor tenant on the WACS cable, made an immense investment which is now starting to bear fruit, evident in the increased service requests for the submarine fibre cables market over the last 10 years.”

Matseke, who is looking to turn around the company’s financial state through a mixture of traditional business and an enhanced service offering in the digital revolution era, says Broadband Infraco is poised to take a leading role in the proposed regional fibre project, dubbed the ‘SADC superhighway’.

“The project is planned as multiple and separate projects, and depending on customer demand or localised network performance, appropriate projects will be prioritised with different completion times. It will have a major impact in unlocking value as well as trade across the countries in SADC. It will also be a springboard for further development across the continent.”

Matseke says Broadband Infraco has made a significant contribution locally and is still a necessary player in making sure South Africa is connected.

He explains that the company has fibre covering approximately 15 000km in SA; more than 11 350km of which lies outside Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban (about 78% of fibre coverage).

“The positioning of our fibre and the efficiency of our systems or processes has resulted in us being appointed the lead agency in rolling out government’s SA Connect project, which aims to provide connectivity to government facilities, including all schools, health facilities in the country and those who live in under-serviced areas, by 2030.”

Matseke, who took over from Puleng Kwele in 2017, says for this specific project, Broadband Infraco is responsible for infrastructure deployment, while SITA is responsible for the value-added services. It is the SA Connect project that will see it action the developmental portion of its mandate, he adds.

“We are proud to have connected all 313 sites as part of phase 1A of the project and are well in line to connect the additional 400 sites from phase 1B. The project in its entirety has been scheduled to be implemented over a period of three years.”