South Africa is a telecommunications powerhouse and is home to a few of the continent’s biggest operators – Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, and Liquid Telecom.
MTN is Africa’s largest mobile operator and offers voice, data, and digital services to around 250 million retail customers in 21 countries.
Vodacom is South Africa’s largest mobile operator and serves 117 million customers across the continent.
In the fixed-line market, Telkom and Liquid Telecom remain the biggest players, but competition is increasing from fibre players like SEACOM, DFA, and Vumatel.
South Africa also has excellent ISPs like Afrihost, Axxess, and Cool Ideas which provide Internet access to residential customers and businesses.
Telecoms company valuations
Many people may wonder how much these companies are worth, especially those which are not directly listed on the JSE.
To answer this question, MyBroadband looked at the annual reports of shareholders in these companies and the valuations which they attach to their investments.
There are, however, a few companies which are either privately held or for which the owners do not give a valuation of the company. These include Liquid Telecom, Afrihost, and Webafrica.
Corporate action over the past few years can help to shed some light on their valuations, but these should be seen as rough estimates rather than valuations.
Here is an overview of the value of South Africa’s top telecommunications companies.
Vodacom – R213 billion
Vodacom is South Africa’s most valuable telecommunications company at R213 billion.
The operator launched services in South Africa in 1994 and has grown its operations to include networks in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, and Lesotho.
It also provides business services to customers in over 32 African countries, including Nigeria, Zambia, Angola, Kenya, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Cameroon.
MTN – R156 billion
MTN is the continent’s largest telecoms operator with 250 million retail customers in the 21 countries.
It launched its first mobile products in South Africa in 1994 and rapidly expanded its operations across Africa and the Middle East.
MTN is among the most admired and most valuable brands in Africa.
Telkom – R14.6 billion
Telkom is South Africa’s largest fixed-line operator with 164,000km of fibre in the ground.
The company has connected more than 2.8 million premises with fibre through Openserve and it has around 10 million mobile subscribers.
It has been the cornerstone of the local telecoms market for decades and continues to play a vital role in connecting millions of South Africans.
CIVH (DFA and Vumatel) – R15.4 billion
CIVH, which owns DFA and Vumatel, is one of South Africa’s largest fibre operators with a strong position in the fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-business markets.
DFA owns fibre networks in major cities and smaller metros with a fibre network of around 14,000km. The current book value of this fibre-optic network is in excess of R9 billion.
Vumatel, in turn, is a leader in the FTTH market with a fibre network of over 16,000km.
The company is also looking at opportunities in the data centre, tower infrastructure, and open-access wireless network market.
Rain – R12.2 billion
Rain is South Africa’s newest mobile operator with three big assets – spectrum, a growing 4G and 5G network, and a lucrative roaming agreement with Vodacom.
Rain shareholder ARC Investments said Rain’s revenue growth has been encouraging and significant progress has been made to further improve on network performance and stability.
SEACOM – R3.04 billion
SEACOM launched Africa’s first broadband submarine cable system along the continent’s eastern and southern coasts in 2009.
Since then it evolved into a fully-fledged telecoms operator offering high-capacity local and international fibre-optic connectivity, Internet, and cloud services to the wholesale and enterprise markets in Southern and East Africa.
Afrihost – R2 billion (estimate)
Afrihost was started in the late nineties as a web hosting company by three friends – Gian Visser, Brendan Armstrong, and Peter Meintjes. In September 2009, Afrihost entered the broadband market to bolster their market share as an ISP.
This move was very successful and today the company is the most trusted ISP in South Africa.
In 2014, MTN acquired half of Afrihost for R408 million, putting the company’s valuation at R816 million at the time.
Since then the company has shown strong growth and launched many successful new products, and recent valuations and offers put the company’s value at around R2 billion.
Metrofibre – R1.34 billion
Metrofibre was founded in 2010 as an internet infrastructure company that provides managed fibre-optic broadband connectivity in South Africa.
Its customers include service providers, resellers, residential and business properties, and consumers. The company also has a VOIP platform and recently launched GigaGo, a new fibre ISP.
Webafrica – R300 million (estimate)
Webafrica, which was founded in 1997 by Matthew Tagg as a web hosting company, is one of South Africa’s largest Internet service providers (ISPs) with around 60,000 customers.
It has recently put itself up for sale and the company is looking for an offer of R300 million.
While industry players value the company at between R170 million and R220 million, Webafrica would not entertain offers lower than R300 million.