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Companies pledge billions for ICT investment in South Africa

14th April 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Vodacom and Cassava Technologies are among a total of eight companies pledging a collective R81.056-billion of investments into global business services, information and communication technology (ICT) and digital services across South Africa over the next five years.

Vodacom has pledged to invest R60-billion in South Africa after investing R50-billion over the past five years in line with its 2018 commitment, while Cassava Technologies has pledged R4.5-billion in investment through its business units, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Africa Data Centres and Distributed Power Africa.

The pledges were made during the fifth South Africa Investment Conference (SAIC), in support of President Cyril Ramaphosa's initiative to drive investment into South Africa.

According to SAIC, Telkom and Rain have pledged a respective R5.972-billion and R4-billion, while Teraco pledged R2-billion, Moove R284-million, SA Taxi R500-million and Equinix R3.8-billion.

“This latest substantial investment is expected to contribute significantly to enhancing network resilience to keep customers connected, further accelerating Vodacom’s deep rural coverage programme to help bridge the digital divide and deepen financial inclusion,” Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub says.

“Five years ago we heeded the call from Ramaphosa to play a central role in his investment drive aimed at attracting R1.2-trillion over a five-year period. Looking back over the past five years, we believe that our initial R50-billion pledge has played a significant role in fostering digital inclusion for all and helping to unlock economic and social opportunities for South Africa.”

Through its investment, Vodacom has helped improve coverage to 95.8% of the rural population as well as extending their fourth-generation (4G) and third-generation population coverage to 97.94% and 99.88% respectively.

South Africa accounts for the largest proportion of Africa's industrial gross domestic product with a sophisticated and growing $6.75-billion ICT sector, which is one of the continent’s most investment-attractive and growth-bound industries, says Cassava Technologies president and group CEO Hardy Pemhiwa.

The World Bank estimates that South Africa's Internet penetration rate has doubled over the last decade to 70%, while the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa reports that the national population coverage for 4G/long-term evolution stood at 97.7% in 2021, placing the nation years ahead of its peers in sub-Saharan Africa, he says.

Cassava Technologies’ investment pledge comprises key projects, including the expansion of the Liquid Intelligent Technologies fibre network, the extension of Africa Data Centres capacity and footprint, as well as enhanced cloud and cybersecurity capacity and the deployment of clean, renewable energy by Distributed Power Africa in South Africa.

The investment from Cassava, which has operations in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, the US and Latin America, will continue to bring internationally recognised services and products to South Africa through the group's renewable energy, cloud and cybersecurity, data centres and broadband connectivity business units, Pemhiwa outlines.

“The country's unique combination of highly developed first-world economic infrastructure and a stable macro-economic environment affords businesses like ours a conducive investment environment in which we can partner with government to drive economic development and create jobs.”

He says that the company’s investments will contribute towards positioning South Africa as an attractive investment destination and enable greater inclusion of all South Africans consistent with Cassava's vision of a “digitally connected future that leaves no African behind”.

During the conference on Thursday, Ramaphosa unveiled a new investment target of R2-trillion for the five-year period to 2028 and that R1.51-trillion in new pledges from domestic and international investors, covering a range of activities, from telecoms, mining and manufacturing, to economic and social infrastructure, had been received, exceeding the R1.2-trillion five-year target set in 2018.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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