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Women-led start-up wants share in fibre land grab

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Angie Pillay, CEO of Terabit Technologies.
Angie Pillay, CEO of Terabit Technologies.

Woman-led telecoms infrastructure and technical services start-up Terabit Technologies has set its sights on Africa’s fattening fibre market, with plans to expand operations to the rest of the continent.

CEO Angie Pillay says the fibre industry is still male-dominated and women are “not given the same opportunity, as we are viewed as not being as technical as men”.

This, she says, will now change through Terabit Technologies’ aggressive growth plans targeting the continent.

According to Pillay, Terabit plans to make its mark in the fibre sector, and has invested in a multimillion-rand data-driven technology platform to enable smart delivery of fibre services and on-going maintenance.

Founded in 2014, the company currently lays fibre for Telkom as the main contractor and connects homes and businesses.

Additionally, it provides fibre-optic line installations, field network maintenance, radio frequency and microwave engineering services.

Competition on the fibre front is heating up, as more companies, including the big telcos, have been targeting both the business and consumer markets.

Companies such as Telkom, Vumatel, Frogfoot and Octotel target the township and smaller markets popularly referred to in the sector as the secondary markets.

In an interview with ITWeb, Pillay says women-led companies have been left behind in this rush.

“I do not see much acknowledgement of women in this work space; however, I would love to see more opportunities and credit given to women.”

SA is commemorating Women’s Month in August, which serves to highlight women's achievements, empowerment and gender equality issues, including concerns and challenges.

Limited opportunities for women in the ICT and telecoms sectors have been the subject of recent discussions.

Just this week, the ICT sector was urged to nurture and empower female talent, and also increase board and management representation.

ICASA’s state of the ICT report 2021 notes there are only 12 820 female employees in the telecoms sector, and over a six-year period, total female employment in the telecoms sector increased by only 2.4%.

Despite these challenges, Pillay says since she has been in the fibre space, she has seen fresh opportunities. Terabit Technologies will pursue alternative streams of income, increase its client base and extend services to all provinces.

“Our company has grown in leaps and bounds. We have expanded turnover from a small business, to a medium-sized business in a short space of time. In the beginning, it was just two people running the show, and now we have a total of 30 permanent jobs in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

“We have expanded into having a planning department, a full operations department, an administration department, and a maintenance department. Due to our expertise, competence, time management, our skillsets and efficiency, we are a preferred fibre service provider to our main contractor.”

Pillay says while Terabit Technologies is steadily achieving recognition in the fibre space, she and her team still face immense obstacles.

“The three main challenges we face are competition from other fibre service providers that have footprints in the industry; secondly, site access into home properties and community issues, when we get onto site and are given a project to run – unskilled community members demand a stake in the projects and I have to give it to them.”

According to Pillay, her background in the construction sector has been handy in helping her deal with some of the challenges.

“I had massive experience in the construction industry before I was offered a position in the telecommunication industry. I had a passion of running projects and leading a team, and this was an ideal opportunity for me. I also have a passion to work on projects that are site-based.”

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