The Paratus road king

Johannesburg, 25 Jul 2023
Colwyn van Rensburg, Paratus Group Chief Development Officer.
Colwyn van Rensburg, Paratus Group Chief Development Officer.

For the past 13 years, Colwyn van Rensburg has been an integral part of the Paratus Group, playing a vital role in its success. Warm, approachable and easy company, Van Rensburg's passion for business and his love for cruising on his Harley-Davidson Road King have more in common than meets the eye.

Van Rensburg is the Paratus Group Chief Development Officer. He began life as a financial man, but realised his skillset lay in creating business opportunities and making them work well within fiscal frameworks – he makes the money work hard and he makes sure the group’s infrastructure is invested in and deployed to best effect. He was instrumental in establishing Paratus Zambia, undertaking the necessary groundwork, meeting with regulators and spending significant time on the ground ensuring that the group's newest entity became a formidable force in the market.

“After four years of commuting between Namibia and Zambia to ensure the successful establishment of our operations there, I needed a sabbatical to spend essential time with my young family, who had largely been without a father during that time.”

But it wasn’t long before Van Rensburg missed the call of the Paratus family and the thrill of doing business. As a man who’s comfortable at the frontline, he returned to Paratus after 18 months on the sidelines and took up another pioneering role. As Barney Harmse, Paratus Group Executive Chairman, says: “Colwyn is a huge asset to the group because he has the vision to take Paratus to new levels.”

As the group expands and grows its footprint in Africa, Van Rensburg is the man who integrates all the faculties within the business to ensure its smooth sailing. Collaborating closely with Group Commercial Officer Martin Cox, who leads the execution of the initial deals, Van Rensburg oversees their successful implementation and integration across the continent, empowering both the Paratus Group and its various offices.

Van Rensburg’s role is critical as the Paratus Group pursues its aggressive and ambitious goals to transform Africa through exceptional infrastructure and customer service. “I make sure that the component parts not only work, but work in cohesion with one another – whether they be infrastructure or people. It’s essential that everyone works to the same goal and that one advantage in one territory is shared with other territories as much as possible.”

Paratus Group plans to double revenue within the next three to five years. After 20 years in business, Paratus is already a major telco player with an impressive footprint in Africa. It owns and operates an extensive network of infrastructure, has built expert teams in seven southern African countries and serves customers across the country divides with a seamless quality network service. Paratus also has points of presence (POPs) in the USA, UK and Europe and provides services in more than 35 African countries; Paratus has activated the Equiano subsea cable in Namibia and has already built four of its own data centre facilities in three African countries.

Off the business battlefield, Van Rensburg can be found cruising on his Harley Road King, covering kilometres with the same determination and passion he applies to his work. His love for motorcycling mirrors his adventurous approach to business, always exploring new territories and opportunities.

In describing his role, Van Rensburg prefers being seen as the "cruiser" in the business. Just as he navigates vast distances on his motorcycle, he goes far and wide to co-ordinate the successful implementation and integration of new operating companies into the group, steering them towards success.