SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

South Africa: Altech in African Fibre Network Deal

South Africa's Allied Technologies (Altech) Group has acquired an 8.6% initial interest worth US$16.5-million in London-headquartered telecommunications company Liquid, with the aim of expanding its networking footprint and creating the largest single fibre network in Africa.

The planned network will span South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

"The efficiencies this will create will be considerable and will enable the interconnectivity of the continent in a manner previously unachievable," Altech said in a statement on Tuesday.

Altech specialises in telecommunication, multimedia and information technology convergence.

"Enterprises will, in many cases for the first time, be able to obtain point-to-point connectivity between a virtually unprecedented number of African countries.

"The network will provide reliable, high-speed, cost-effective connectivity to carriers, mobile operators, internet service providers (ISPs), financial institutions and businesses of all sizes."

The acquisition of a stake in Liquid followed losses in Altech's East African operations. "The Liquid transaction opens up a positive new chapter for Altech, in partnership with a group with proven expertise in its sector," said Altech's chief executive officer, Craig Venter.

The deal also means speeding up work on fibre networks in Africa.

"Liquid has been building and investing in a high-quality pan-African fibre network for many years, and this deal will accelerate our progress by enlarging our network footprint," said Liquid's chief executive officer, Nic Rudnick.

"We are a strong and ambitious company and have a long-term investment plan for the region.

"The compatibility and complementary nature of Liquid and Altech are important features of this strategic alliance - notably with regard to the use of Altech's multimedia technologies and products, as we extend our value chain to the retail data markets in Africa," Rudnick said.

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