by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) superhighway, a proposed fibre project for the region, is poised to enhance competition in local economies and drastically reduce the cost of telecommunications.
It will particularly be beneficial to the bloc’s landlocked countries, which are bearing the brunt of exorbitant rates.
Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe are landlocked in the 16-member bloc.
The SADC superhighway, which is under discussion, has been created through the joint investment of member countries.
South Africa is to play a prominent role in the implementation of the project, through the state-owned entity, Broadband Infraco.
“The ultimate outcome of this initiative is that at least at an infrastructure level, we can ensure that the reach of optical fibre, which is what you need for backhauling high volumes of data, reaches South Africa, but also large parts of our neighbouring countries,” said Andrew Matseke, Chief Executive Officer for Broadband Infraco.
He said great network infrastructure, sound financial support and meaningful partnerships were key to unlocking potential growth for the SADC regional bloc.
Matseke said cooperation and partnerships around solutions that deliver the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) were important.
The 4IR is the current and developing environment in which disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way people live and work.
Matseke said the beauty of the 4IR is that the types of solutions that are being developed and are required were not capital intensive.
“You need people who are technologically savvy, who have the skills and education that is needed and an innovative mindset,” he said.
He mentioned an entity in Botswana that was working with a partner in South Africa, developing 4IR solutions for the agriculture sector.
Currently, Infraco connects the borders of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
“We see a lot of potential within the market because we believe that the rest of SADC is tired of the incumbents that currently play in this space,” Matseke said.
South Africa currently acts as the gateway for international connectivity for the continent’s landlocked neighbouring countries.
It has seen the submarine fibre cables market explode in the last ten years.
The superhighway is anticipated to complement SADC’s Infrastructure Development Master Plan Information and Communication Technologies (ICT ) Sector Plan of 2012
The vision to achieve a “Digital SADC” by 2027.
– CAJ News