Community Investment Ventures Holdings (CIVH), which is 54% owned by Remgro and 35% by NewGX, is growing into a South African telecommunications powerhouse with very valuable assets.
CIVH currently owns Vumatel and Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), which gives it a strong position in the South African fibre market.
DFA, in turn, owns fibre solutions provider MCT Telecommunications, open-access fibre provider Conduct, IoT network operator SqwidNet, and FTTH operator SA Digital Villages (SADV).
The open-access business models of DFA and Vumatel have radically changed the South African telecoms landscape.
They have also created a more competitive fibre infrastructure market, which has accelerated fibre-to-the-business and fibre-to-the-home rollouts.
CIVH’s open-access strategy further lowered several barriers to entry and facilitated a far more dynamic telecommunications ecosystem.
Only the beginning
While CIVH is set to become the biggest fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-business operator in South Africa, it is only the beginning for the company.
Remgro executive for strategic investments and CIVH chairman Pieter Uys told MyBroadband that CIVH wants to expand its telecoms portfolio.
Uys said the company is looking for suitable opportunities in the network infrastructure, data centre, and tower asset markets.
He explained that their focus is firmly on being a wholesale open-access telecoms provider – as opposed to entering the retail market.
To drive its growth in other telecoms areas, CIVH has appointed Vodacom CTO Andries Delport, who will join the company in early 2020.
The appointment of such an experienced and high-profile telecoms executive clearly shows the intent of CIVH to become a major telecoms player.
Potential partner in the planned WOAN
With former Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys as chairman and Vodacom’s Andries Delport as CTO, it is not surprising that CIVH is looking to enter the mobile telecommunications market.
As CIVH does not want to play in the retail space, the logical solution is for it to become a wholesale provider through the government’s Wireless Open Access Network (WOAN).
CIVH already has a strong fibre footprint and the ability to rapidly grow this footprint to support a mobile network. However, to run the WOAN it will also need towers and data centres.
This has led to CIVH looking for potential investments in the data centre and tower market.
There are very few companies in South Africa with pockets deep enough to acquire such assets, which means the Remgro-backed CIVH is the government’s best chance to get the WOAN right.
With Uys and Delport’s skills in the mobile market, CIVH is well-positioned to make the WOAN a reality and bring additional competition to the mobile market.
The company has also indicated that it is happy to dilute its shares to ensure it has the required BEE shareholding if needed.
This shows that it is ready to do what is needed to become a partner in the government’s WOAN and South Africa’s largest wholesale telecoms company.