WINDHOEK – Paratus, the only Namibian telecommunications service provider to be active internationally, plans to invest a further N$114 million in local infrastructure during 2019. This is in addition to an impressive N$200 million the company has already invested in Namibia during the last two years. During an exclusive interview with New Era, Paratus Chief Executive Officer and Director, Barney Harmse, revealed that the bulk of this investment will go towards the laying of fibre optic cables, LTE mobile base stations as well as back office systems, to improve its local coverage, streamline operations and improve speed and reliability. Paratus, a wholly-owned Namibian company that started operations 15 years ago, has since its inception invested about N$1.5 billion in telecommunications infrastructure in the country. According to Harmse this remarkable local investment was financed mostly through local debt financing. And, this constant stream of investment is paying off for Paratus as in February this year, it reported group turnover of close to N$1 billion (US$67 million).
Since inception, Paratus has established a high-volume network extending the entire Namibia, with additional international points-of-presence located in Johannesburg (South Africa), Lisbon (Portugal) as well as London (UK). “This network is commensurate of our ability to provide exceptional customer service at all times,” said Harmse.
In March 2012, Paratus was issued with a Class Comprehensive Telecommunications Service License (ECS & ECNS), following further expansion of its national and international network as well as launching its own 4G Mobile Network in 2016, to provide telecommunications services to Namibians. Furthermore, while Paratus currently provides product and services in 22 African countries, it has a physical presence with fully licensed and operational offices in Angola, Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana. In the rest of the African countries Paratus teamed up with established businesses on the ground who had already secured the necessary regulatory approval. Harmse further revealed that Paratus would soon be rolling out to more African countries but declined to specify which countries citing industry confidentiality.
“We know Africa and we understand the recipe for doing business in Africa and we apply this recipe well,” said Harmse, adding; “Africa has been good to us because we stay humble and follow the rules”. He continued that Paratus adopts a strictly long-term vision for the markets in which they operate, saying that long-term planning is the only sustainable manner in which to approach the company’s telecommunications rollout.
In June last year Paratus reverse listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) via its majority shareholder, Nimbus Infrastructure Limited, whose consolidated shareholding in Paratus stands at 51.4 percent, effectively making Paratus a Nimbus subsidiary. Paratus Africa, whose headquarters are in Windhoek’s Prosperita Industrial Area, this year activated additional capacity between the West Africa Undersea Cable System (WACS) and Lusaka, Zambia. This followed the completion of the N$170 million Trans Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project last year, which was constructed between the WACS landing station in Swakopmund and Sesheke on the Zambian border.
Within the Paratus Africa Group, Paratus Zambia was the first to take full advantage of the TKF which enables capacity as far north as Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). “Our primary focus has been to establish our own infrastructure and this is vital to ensure that our operations are able to provide the best customer experience,” Harmse concluded.