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Seacom hunts in Africa

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo
Johannesburg, 09 Jan 2014
Seacom anticipates strong growth in the African telecoms market in 2014, says CEO Mark Simpson.
Seacom anticipates strong growth in the African telecoms market in 2014, says CEO Mark Simpson.

Submarine cable operator, Seacom will be on the lookout for growth opportunities in Africa this year.

The company says it anticipates strong growth in the African telecoms market as the impact of government and operator investments into national fibre links, last-mile connectivity and local content continue to be felt across the continent.

"We are still reviewing possibilities; for example, we are looking into investing in Botswana, Malawi, Burundi, Uganda, Djibouti and Ethiopia," says Seacom CEO Mark Simpson.

"During the past year, we have seen terrific progress. Our investments in West Coast capacity, our African ring and meshed IP networks have started to come into their own. Terrestrial fibre penetration has also improved and we're seeing continued and essential access network developments across our markets. These factors helped us to grow in 2013 and will continue to fuel our evolution in 2014," Simpson says.

International capacity consumption has increased in Africa by a 35% to 50% average compound annual growth rate each year, and will continue to do so in future, he adds.

Simpson believes there is scope for the industry to grow even faster if regulatory bottlenecks continue to be addressed and more work is done to lure investment to the continent. Seacom expects to see more elements of the infrastructure ecosystem - such as neutral, reliable data centres, active innovation hubs, open peering exchanges, cloud-delivered ICT infrastructure and access networks - come together to realise the full potential of the market, Simpson says.

In an interview with ITWeb, Simpson noted that, for the South African telecoms sector to prosper, improvements in the last mile are urgently needed. "We specifically need to develop an economically viable model for FTTX [broadband network architecture using optical fibre] and also encourage rapid LTE [long-term evolution] deployment in the market."

He is also of the view that the South African market is among the most developed from a telecoms perspective, but lags behind in connecting end-users.

"The frustrating Internet experience discourages use of the Internet in ways that some more developed countries do. With greater broadband access, the Internet economy will boom from the adoption of cloud-based services."

According to Simpson, Seacom has established a new point of presence (PoP) in Cape Town for customers wanting to access and terminate services in the city. This new PoP plays a vital role in linking eastern and western undersea cable systems and enabling diversity for organisations on both coasts of Africa, he explains.

"We are also adding new PoPs in Durban and Ermelo to our existing PoPs located in Johannesburg and Mtunzini. These new investments are central to our vision of providing a robust and resilient ring around the African continent. We are now able to offer operators and service providers access to the Seacom, and other West and East Coast cable systems, from any of our PoPs in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban."