WIOCC banks on the youth of Africa
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WIOCC banks on the youth of Africa

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Samuel Ndungu, CFO of WIOCC, tells Saf Malik about the key investment and revenue growth opportunities there are in connecting Africa with the rest of the world.

In 2021, the West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC) raised US$200 million to expand its network connectivity within Africa and internationally. The company added US$44 million to support its investment into subsea systems and the deployment of a pan-African data centre ecosystem, alongside developing its terrestrial fibre-optic networks around Africa.

Through the rollout of terrestrial networks, WIOCC has been able to reach more customers in territories such as the central and northern parts of Nigeria, enhance its presence in multiple regions within South Africa, and reach landlocked countries such as Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Uganda.

“We’ve made affordable connectivity more widely available across South Africa by expanding WIOCC’s 16Tbps-ready hyperscale national backbone, coastal corridor routes, metro networks and points of presence,” says Samuel Ndungu, WIOCC’s chief financial officer. “In Nigeria, we’re transforming the network infrastructure, deploying more than 4,500km of fibre and 84 points of presence (PoPs), extending our metro fibre network across Lagos.”

And that is just within Africa.

Key markets

WIOCC Group mainly operates in the regions of Eastern, Southern and Western Africa with the capability to deliver services in more than 30 countries across this region. The firm’s focus markets are characterised by large, young and highly educated populations, where expanding mobile internet uptake and usage combine with growing business and consumer demand for connectivity. WIOCC’s non-African clients are based across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas.

As the company’s CFO, Ndungu provides strategic direction and financial planning, manages financial risks, deals with investments, and sources external funding for several key projects.

Ndungu has more than 28 years of experience in auditing, banking and telecoms. He is one of the founding members of its management team.

As a leading player in the deployment of carrier-scale, future-proofed, open-access network infrastructure in Africa, Ndungu says the company is the “ideal partner” for global cloud operators and internet service providers looking to expand their core networks across the continent and extend their reach to customers.

“The WIOCC Group’s vision is focused on establishing the backbone underpinning and accelerating digital transformation on the continent, based on deploying and operating a converged open digital infrastructure for Africa,” Ndungu adds. “This is down to its unique network interconnecting of over 500 locations, and the establishment of a pan-Africa network of core and edge data centres.”


WIOCC’s strategic investment in a fibre pair on two new subsea systems – Google’s Equiano cable on Africa’s west coast and Meta’s 2Africa cable on the east and west coasts — ensures that it has the low-cost base and on-net scale needed to provide high levels of availability to its clients: cloud operators, telcos, ISPs and wholesalers.

Both cables are hosted in facilities of WIOCC’s subsidiary, Open Access Data Centre (OADC). This will significantly increase capacity, quality and availability of internet connectivity between Africa and the rest world, says Ndungu. He adds that now Google’s Equiano subsea cable is in South Africa, WIOCC’s wholesale capabilities have “significantly improved”.

“As a fibre pair owner, WIOCC can now offer fully upgradeable and scalable capacity to businesses across South Africa and neighbouring countries on the fastest available route to Europe,” says Ndungu.

WIOCC’s Equiano capacity is under its control, allowing for lighting and capacity upgrades to meet the needs of its clients. Its expansion into a new OADC facility in Cape Town will expand WIOCC’s reach and allow its clients to connect with cloud networks, suppliers and infrastructure providers.

Revenue growth

Funding has been “instrumental” in fast-tracking the rollout of WIOCC’s data centre business, according to Ndungu.

Moving forward, the company is focused on expanding geographically to reach new markets through partnerships with local operators and deploying national network infrastructure in countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Zambia. The firm also hopes to get services closer to end users, through investing in metro networks within major business hubs, such as Johannesburg and Lagos, and in a growing network of edge data centres.

WIOCC is also set to invest in new areas in the coming months. In its first year, OADC has overseen the rapid deployment of 35 facilities, including core data centres in Lagos, Nigeria, and Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.

The firm plans to enter new markets in the coming years, beginning with the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2023.

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