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With dramatic changes in the way South Africans are using the internet, demand for stable, affordable connections has never been higher. The Covid-19 lockdown has meant that work, schooling and social lives have shifted online. With Vodacom reporting an 86% surge in household data usage, there is no denying that South Africa’s fibre network connectivity is set for massive expansion. Africa Infrastructure Investment managers have put R1.5bn behind this growth. This article is published with the permission of. – Melani Nathan
African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) has acquired a R980-million stake in South African open-access fibre network operator MetroFibre Networx. This is the majority portion of a R1.5bn equity funding round, which forms part of MetroFibre’s R3bn, three-year capital expansion plan.
As part of this plan, MetroFibre aims to densify its network in existing areas, and also expand its network to an additional 300,000 residences. “This investment provides AIIM with an attractive foothold in the digital infrastructure market in South Africa,” said AIIM Investment Director Ed Stumpf. “Despite material investment in recent years, AIIM continues to see a significant deficit in last-mile fibre connectivity across many parts of the country.”
“Fibre networks underpin the growing demand for high speed, low latency home internet and are crucial to facilitate the accelerating digital migration caused by recent global lockdowns.” Stumpf also noted that AIIM placed a priority on strengthening the empowerment credentials of MetroFibre.
“Rali Mampeule and Kameel Keshav – CEO and CFO of the South African Housing & Infrastructure Fund – both of whom bring years of experience in the affordable housing sector – have been introduced as strategic empowerment partners through the newly incorporated Digital Infrastructure Consortium Proprietary Limited platform and share our growth agenda and excitement in enhancing connectivity for all South Africans,” said Stumpf.
MetroFibre CEO Steve Booysen said the funding will be highly beneficial to MetroFibre’s expansion plans. “The successful capital raise will enable MetroFibre to continue with its growth strategy and explore acquisition opportunities, connecting customers with the global economy through a reliable and fast connection,” said Booysen. “In addition to our organic growth plan, the successful capital raise ensures that MetroFibre is well placed to play a leading role in the sector’s consolidation process, given our strong leadership and operational teams, as well as significant shareholders of reference.”
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