Following a year of growth and progress in its business, pan-African telecommunications enabler SEACOM will be hunting for growth in new African territories in 2014, as well as continuing its evolution from a cable operator into an infrastructure provider that offers a range of IP solutions to its service provider and operator customers.
That’s according to SEACOM CEO Mark Simpson, who says he anticipates strong growth in the African telecom market as the impact of government and operator investments into national fibre links, last-kilometre connectivity, and local content continue to be felt across the continent. With these essential pieces of the puzzle rapidly falling into place, SEACOM expects robust growth for its business in this year.
“During the past year, we have seen terrific progress. Our investments in West coast capacity, our African ring and meshed IP networks have started to come into their own – developments that have been really good for SEACOM’s customers. Terrestrial fibre penetration has also improved and we’re seeing continued and essential access network developments across our markets. These factors helped us to grow in 2013 and will continue to fuel our evolution in 2014,” says Simpson.
Looking ahead strategic plans include expanding into a number of new countries which it does not yet serve directly, including West coast countries. SEACOM will continue to invest in countries to ensure its drive to become a truly pan-African infrastructure provider is met.
“The pace of change is accelerating. We’re increasingly working with international players to assist with them their entry into Africa. We also expect to see ongoing consolidation of operators and service providers at the regional and country levels, as well as new players emerging in these vibrant markets,” says Simpson. “These trends are positive because they mean a flow of money into building essential new infrastructure as well as consolidation and better utilisation of existing infrastructure, rather than wasteful duplication.”
According to Simpson the African telecom market has grown its international capacity consumption by an average rate of 35% to 50% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) each year and can be expected to do so for years into the future. In fact, Simpson believes there is scope for the industry to grow even faster if regulatory bottlenecks continue to be addressed and more work is done to lure investment to the continent. SEACOM expects to see more elements of the infrastructure ecosystem such as neutral, reliable data centres, active innovation hubs, open IX peering exchanges, cloud delivered ICT infrastructure and access networks come together during the coming years to catalyse the full potential of the market, Simpson says.
During 2013, SEACOM made a number of key investments in expanding and enhancing its infrastructure with the goal of building a faster, more reliable and more affordable Internet service for African telecom users.
These investments have positioned the company to take advantage of the trends reshaping the telecom landscape, says Simpson.
SEACOM has focused heavily on bringing its services closer to customers during 2013, adding new points of presence (PoPs) in Durban, Cape Town and Yzerfontein, interconnected to existing PoPs located in Johannesburg and Mtunzini. These investments mean that SEACOM can now offer customers a robust and resilient ring around the African continent by linking its cable with other submarine cable systems on the West and East coast.
Furthermore, these investments improve national connectivity solutions between South Africa’s largest business centres and peering points by allowing SEACOM to provide national connectivity between these PoPs. This gives operators a wide choice of providers and more price competition on South Africa’s national links than they had in the past, Simpson adds.
From SEACOM’s perspective, the future will be all about building a continent-wide ecosystem rather than simply focusing on international connectivity, says Simpson. For that reason, the company has invested in upgrading its IP/MPLS networks to enable customers to provide faster and more reliable Internet connectivity to their enterprise and retail customer bases on a scalable and flexible basis that supports growth and assists end users to manage risk.
It has also launched an African IP Transit offering, supported by its award winning Remote Peering connectivity solution. “This allows our customers to leverage our large and growing African IP footprint to gain direct, cost-effective access to content and end-users located across the African continent. Because they no longer need to transit through off-continent locations, they’ll be able to reduce latency and network hops, furthering our goal of creating a truly African Internet” says Simpson.
SEACOM’s investments in its African infrastructure have earned it a range of accolades, including the following AfricaCom Awards, announced in Cape Town in November, 2013:
• Winner: Best Connectivity Solution for Africa category for its Remote Peering solution.
• Winner: Best Pan African Initiative for its continent-wide IP Network.
• Runner-up: Best Network Improvement for its Africa Ring.