Engineering success for Paratus in Zambia
Having spearheaded the Paratus Zambia operation for the past 10 years, Marius van Vuuren has taken the pan-African telco to number three in the Zambia market – no mean feat in a crowded and complex market. But then Van Vuuren is a rare breed, which didn’t escape the notice of the Paratus Group’s founders.
Barney Harmse spotted Van Vuuren’s talent early on when the two men were associates in Namibia. While Van Vuuren was a top executive at SALT Essential IT, which used Paratus for many of its network requirements, Harmse saw his value as a leader and the kind of man they needed at Paratus in Zambia.
And so began Van Vuuren’s mission to take Paratus Zambia from a humble start-up to a major telco force in the country today. It also kicked off Van Vuuren’s love affair with Zambia. “This is a magnificent country. The people are open and friendly and there is a culture of working and playing equally hard. I am firmly rooted here now."
This is not only because Van Vuuren met his wife in Zambia, but also because he sees how the country plays an important role in serving its own citizens as well as those in neighbouring countries. Paratus has been instrumental in preparing for the digital revolution and in helping to get behind business in Zambia to ensure they may benefit from the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).
A key intervention in this process was the construction of the Paratus Data Center in Lusaka, which opened in 2021. Van Vuuren has a personal ethos that permeates everything he does. “There’s only one way to do things and that’s the right way. Taking short cuts only costs in the long term and it’s imperative that we get it right from the get-go.” So, Van Vuuren took it upon himself to oversee every detail of this massive build by applying both his engineering skills and his managerial skills to ensure the DC was built to the highest and most exacting standards. As a Tier-III (by design) state-of-the-art facility, the Paratus DC in Zambia has been internationally accredited and is a world-class sophisticated colocation DC that forms an important part of the ever-growing suite of DCs that the Paratus Group now owns and operates in Africa.
As Van Vuuren explains: “Our mission is to transform Africa through exceptional digital infrastructure and customer service. We want to ensure we help Zambian businesses participate in the new digital era. For that, they need high quality connectivity and local colocation facilities… and we’re ready for their future success.”
Born and bred in Namibia, Van Vuuren spent 10 years studying engineering and then working in Germany. Sadly, he doesn’t use his German bilingualism any longer – except among friends – but he certainly uses what he was taught in one of the most successful technologically advanced countries in the world every day. “Paratus is, in short, an infrastructure company and one that is helping to engineer the future in Africa. Many of the business leaders in the group are engineers – we understand what’s needed and we know how it works. That’s key to our success.”
After just 20 years in Africa, Paratus is already a major telco player with an impressive footprint on the continent. Owning its own infrastructure, building expert teams in seven southern African countries, and serving customers across the continent with a seamless quality network service – these are the cornerstones of the Paratus Group’s success so far. Paratus Group also has points of presence (POPs) in the USA, UK and Europe and provides services in 35 more African countries via its satellite network; it successfully landed the Equiano subsea cable in Namibia; and has already built four of its own data centre facilities in three African countries.
Van Vuuren is particularly proud of the fact that he’s never really failed at anything he’s set out to do and he has made it his mission to learn every facet of the business. He developed both his financial and managerial skills and, because he’s a self-confessed obsessive-compulsive man, he doesn’t stop until the job is done and done properly. And his prowess extends beyond the business too because his love of cooking has made him the talk of the Paratus Group – everyone wants to go to Zambia and sample Van Vuuren’s food, its reputation being of legendary proportion.