Biggest South African tech stories of 2014

2014 was a big year for technology in South Africa, with many acquisitions and developments in the telecommunications market.

Vodacom’s planned acquisition of Neotel continued to make headlines, with a battle looming at the Competition Commission over the deal.

In the broadband market, fibre-to-the-home was all the rage, with many companies launching affordable fibre-based broadband products.

The price war in the mobile market also continued to attract attention, with Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom Mobile fighting for market share.

Here are some of the biggest technology and telecoms stories of the year.

Eskom load shedding

Stealing electricity eskom
Eskom

Eskom’s troubles resulted in rolling blackouts in 2014, and according to Eskom, South Africans should prepare themselves for further load shedding in 2015. The lack of electricity is partly a result of the delay in the completion of the Medupi and Kusile power stations.

MTN’s acquisition of Afrihost

MTN Afrihost
MTN Afrihost

In June 2014 Afrihost announced that MTN had acquired a controlling stake in the company. The deal was approved by both the Competition Commission and the Commission Tribunal in November 2014.

Telkom and MTN in mobile network deal

Telkom's new brand
Telkom’s new brand

In March 2014 Telkom announced that it had entered into an agreement with MTN, where MTN would take over financial and operational responsibility for the rollout and operation of Telkom’s radio access network (RAN). There would also be reciprocal roaming agreements between the two companies.

Telkom planning to buy Business Connexion

Telkom BCX
Telkom BCX

Telkom announced on 22 May 2014 that it was planning to make a cash offer to acquire BCX‘s entire issued share capital. Telkom said that BCX entered into an implementation agreement with it, where Telkom formally offered to acquire the entire issued ordinary share capital of BCX.

Internet Solutions to buy MWEB Business

Internet Solutions
Internet Solutions

Internet Solutions, a division of Dimension Data, announced on 22 September 2014 that it had signed a transaction agreement to purchase the following assets and business divisions from MWEB: MWEB ISP core network assets, MWEB Business, and Optinet.

Faster and cheaper broadband in South Africa

South Africa Internet
South Africa Internet

In 2014 many ISPs launched new fibre-to-the-home products, Telkom launched the country’s first LTE Advanced service, and ADSL prices continued to decrease.

E-tolling fight goes mainstream

e-toll
e-toll

The government may have hoped that the fight against e-tolling would fizzle out in 2014, but this did not happen. The resistance to the controversial Gauteng e-tolling system continued, resulting in an advisory panel investigation into the system. It is rumoured this panel’s report recommended that e-tolling must be scrapped.

Zuma’s daughter gets top telecoms job

Zuma Companies
Jacob Zuma

Thuthukile Xolile Nomonde Zuma, the daughter of President Jacob Zuma, was appointed as the chief of staff in the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services. This appointment raised some eyebrows, but the department defended its decision.

Cell C banner saga

Cell C billboard after changes
Cell C billboard after Prokas effected changes to it, prior to the hearing

In November 2014 George Prokas, an irate Cell C customer, put up a billboard with the message “The most useless service provider in SA – Cell C Sandton City”. Cell C launched an unsuccessful legal attempt to have the billboard taken down, and after a few changes the billboard remained up.

Department of Communications split – new ministers

Siyabonga Cwele
Siyabonga Cwele

Following the 2014 national elections, the Department of Communications was split into two new departments – the Department of Communications and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services. Siyabonga Cwele was named as the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, while Faith Muthambi was announced as the new Communications Minister.

Multisource planning to buy iBurst

iBurst for sale
iBurst for sale

Convergence technology company Multisource made an offer to acquire iBurst parent company Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) – an offer which was confirmed by Multisource chairman Phumlani Moholi.

SABC qualifications mess

Zandile Ellen Tshabalala
Zandile Ellen Tshabalala

The SABC was faced with two qualification scandals – that of SABC chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala who claimed to have degrees from the University of South Africa and SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng who claimed to have a matric.

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Biggest South African tech stories of 2014