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Rain targets 2m customers, reaches R17.1bn valuation

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 18 Mar 2021
Johan van Zyl, co-CEO of African Rainbow Capital.
Johan van Zyl, co-CEO of African Rainbow Capital.

Rain has set its sights on racking up two million local customers over the next few years, as the data-only network operator reaches a R17.1 billion valuation.

African Rainbow Capital (ARC), which owns 20.37% of Rain, released its interim financial results today for the six months ended 31 December 2020.

In a business update webinar this morning, Johan van Zyl, ARC co-CEO, said the telco is making good progress with the rollout of its strategy to establish a data network in metropolitan SA, and it has experienced strong growth in clients over the last six months.

Rain, which was Africa’s first telco to deploy a commercial 5G network in September 2019, is aiming to become a full-service mobile network operator, focusing on data as a primary offering.

The ARC Fund’s investment in Rain has increased from R3 111 million at 30 June 2020, to R3 493 million at 31 December 2020, as a result of a fair value gain of R382 million over the six-month period, according to the company.

“Our customers have grown quite exponentially and January has been another excellent month – the second largest month that we’ve had in terms of getting more people on board.

“Remember it’s not the number of customers that really determine the value that we have, but rather it’s the number of high-value customers. We aim to get to around two million customers in the next two to three years and we are currently close to halfway.”

Rain has seen an increase in data usage since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant national lockdown, with 5G customers consisting of about 20% of its total customers.

“Our 5G customers make up more than half of our value because they are high users,” he explained.

In terms of 4G expansion, Van Zyl pointed out that the operator has progressed well, with nearly 7 000 active live sites as at the end of December 2020.

“By 31 December 2020, 685 5G towers have been activated and the aim is to increase this to 1 150 towers by February 2022. Ultimately, more than 2 000 5G towers in larger metropolitan areas throughout South Africa are planned, bringing ultra-fast broadband connections to homes and small businesses at affordable cost.”

Comparing Rain’s offerings to MTN and Vodacom, analysts previously told ITWeb that although the bigger players have superior infrastructure, pricing will be the biggest bet for Rain in SA’s fledgling 5G race.

Rain’s 5G offering is not intended as a competitor to MTN and Vodacom, but rather complements their services.

“The trading conditions were challenging for many of the companies in our portfolio, while there are some that actually benefited from the COVID-19 impact. For those companies adversely impacted by the national lockdown, we – along with the management of the portfolio company – devised suitable interventions,” said Van Zyl.