Loss-making SqwidNet owner launches Sigfox South Africa

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Raymond Ndlovu, non-executive director of Sigfox South Africa and CEO of Community Investment Ventures Holdings.
Raymond Ndlovu, non-executive director of Sigfox South Africa and CEO of Community Investment Ventures Holdings.

European internet of things (IOT) wireless network operator Sigfox has officially launched its South African operations.

Sigfox South Africa is the culmination of the extensive restructuring of Community Investment Ventures Holdings (CIVH)-owned IOT unit SqwidNet, which was wound-down after it failed to make profit for its owners – six years after it was launched in November 2016.

Sigfox South Africa is backed by a consortium of investors comprising CIVH, Discovery Insure, Fidelity ADT, Macrocomm and Buffet Investments.

A French global network operator founded in 2010,Sigfoxbuilds wireless networks to allow billions of devices to connect to the internet, in a straightforward way, while consuming as little energy as possible.

With operations in over 75 countries, the wireless network operator is the initiator of the Sigfox 0G network, which interconnects low bandwidth, battery-powered devices with low bit rates over long ranges.

The Sigfox 0G network in South Africa was built over several years through the then IOT network provider SqwidNet, which was the licensed Sigfox operator in SA.

Addressing delegates at the launch event in Sandton this morning, CIVH CEO Raymond Ndlovu – who is also non-executive director of Sigfox South Africa − pointed out that in mid-2021, SqwidNet's stakeholders agreed the business required fundamental restructuring to adapt to various challenges it encountered over the previous years.

Working with a consortium of new investors, Sigfox South Africa aligns its operations and strategy to the changing nature of the local IOT market, he added.

“We've taken past lessons to heart and understood that our customers are loyal and proactive because they appreciate the tangible value massive IOT creates for them and their customers.

“In the technology sector, you evolve with risks and remain cognisant of relevant, dynamic innovation. This is the ethos of Sigfox South Africa, and we look forward to helping IOT make even more positive impacts for everyone.”

According to Ndlovu, the consortium has made a multimillion-rand investment in bringing the operations to local shores, with billions of rands having already been invested in the infrastructure. SqwidNet's assets, along with fresh investments, have been poured into the new company.

Sigfox South Africa is a fully licensed national 0G network operator focused on commercialising the country’s prominent and growing Sigfox 0G network coverage, he noted.

SqwidNet's customers, which consist of cross-sector organisations in the IOT space, now supported by Sigfox South Africa, will have uninterrupted access to the Sigfox 0G network.

“Having serviced the South African market and local customers, low power, wide area networks have consistently demonstrated the best reliability, performance and cost to keep IOT devices online. The ability to provide connectivity to devices needing external power sources is a significant win for the African market and its ability to roll out digital solutions,” added Ndlovu.

According to the company, the Sigfox 0G network continues to grow to deliver value to current and future customers. It is a tier one network, covering 95% of the global population and 90% of national roads, it says.

Singapore-based end-to-end customised IOT solutions firm UnaBiz is the new owner of the Sigfox 0G technology, after recently acquiring the agile tech.

According to UnaBiz, such a re-alignment is not unusual in the fast-growing and dynamic IOT market.

“UnaBiz is pleased to welcome Sigfox South Africa to the global 0G network operator community. As one of the fastest-growing IOT markets in the Middle East and Africa region, massive IOT adoption has accelerated significantly in South Africa over the last few years,” comments Henri Bong, CEO and co-founder of UnaBiz.

“We look forward to working closely with Sigfox South Africa to bring down the cost and complexity of massive IOT adoption in many sectors, including energy, manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare and logistics.”

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15 Aug
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