20 June 2018
“Africa is growing from a margin market to a volume market”
That’s according to Norman Albi, CEO of AFR-IX
Telecom during a recent interview with Capacity TV.
As the continent goes through a transitional period, the
shift in the market has sparked a number of new investments and
projects, also driven by the growing demands of the volume
The finance sector has been quick to pick up on this market
shift and it has responded in kind with Telecom Egypt being the
most recent recipient of this new surge in investment. In
May, the company was awarded a $200 million loan from the
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank). The deal was
negotiated by the Egypt branch of the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
and the newly acquired funds will be used for working capital
as well as future investments.
MTN Group is also reportedly now preparing for its
speculated $500 million Nigerian IPO. The company says it
is hoping to raise at least $400 million in funds to help
reduce its telco debt, though no applications for the offer
have been received by the Securities and Exchange Commission or
the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
The African subsea market is experiencing particularly high
growth in the region with numerous new projects scheduled for
completion over the next 12-18 months.
One being Ghana’s Eastern Corridor subsea cable
that has begun its final phase of development. Once finalised,
the new cable will be followed by a 165km cable extension
linking Accra to Ho. The €38 million project is funded by
a loan from the government of Denmark, the Danish International
Similarly back in April, Globacom announced that it was
building a new fibre-optic subsea cable in Nigeria. The
multi-billion naira cable called Glo2 is to be built by
"The new submarine cable will be approximately 850 km long
and will be named Glo2. The cable will be integrated to
Globacom’s existing terrestrial backbone network
to provide additional service redundancy," said Sanjib Roy,
Globacom’s regional director of technical.
It was also this month that Angola Cables’
6,500km South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) from Sangano in
Angola to Fortaleza in Brazil, became ready for
In Northern Africa, Algeria’s government
confirmed that the country would have two new subsea cables by
the end of 2018. One connecting Algeria to Spain, and the
second interconnecting an exsiting cable providing onward
connectivity to the US and Asia.
In the cloud space, global cloud infrastructure revenues for
the Middle East and Africa region increased by 27.5% between
2016 and 2017.
Project-wise, Tata Communications and Dreamtime Technologies
partnered together to build a cloud-based virtual mobile
network to serve African mobile and internet of things (IoT)
providers. They hope that the new offering will lay the
foundation for next-gen mobile and IoT services across various
sectors such as: healthcare, transport, mining, agriculture,
banking and retail.
Data market grows
In line with the growing need for capacity and data, data
centres expanded at the same time. Africa Data Centres has
expanded facilities at its flagship East Africa Data Centre
(EADC) in Nairobi, Kenya.
PAIX Data Centres and NSIA Technologies revealed that they
would jointly develop carrier neutral data centres in Abidjan,
Côte d’Ivoire and Dakar, Senegal.
Because of the rural landscape across much of the continent,
satellite communications revealed itself as another high growth
area. Vodacom Business Nigeria partnered Intelsat to
expand its enterprise broadband connectivity in West Africa.
Under the agreement Vodacom will be able to offer new and
enhanced services to its customers.
Intelsat joined Smart Africa, a public-private organisation
that supports Africa’s digital transformation. The
satellite company says it wants to with governments and other
organisations to reduce the digital divide.
MainOne has ramped up its expansion plans, having secured a
C1B licence allowing it to expand national and international
connectivity services in Côte D’Ivoire (The
Regionally, the Zimbabwean telecoms industry has been doing
particularly well. Back in March telecoms revenue for the
country reached approximately $1 billion in 2017 according to
figures from Zimbabwe’s regulator.
Interestingly, the majority of this revenue was made up of
mobile operators, which increased 17.6% year on year to reach
$849.8 million in 2017. Mobile subscriptions grew 42.5%,
reaching 4.7 million by the end of 2017, indication growing
mobile penetration in the region.
Asian telecoms companies have begun increasing its presence
in the market largely through partnerships and
In May, Korea’s KT expanded its ICT cooperation
with African countries based on its successful nationwide LTE
network project in Rwanda.
Similarly, Liquid Telecom and China Telecom Global partnered
to offer its enterprise and wholesale customers of extended
But I leave AFR-IX Telecom’s Albi with the last
word as he surmises it perfectly: "The expansion of services in
Africa is driving capacity needs and Africa is leading the pack
in terms of growth."
Be sure to join us at Capacity Africa 2018, 5 & 6
September in Kigali.