Navigating Africa's Telecom Landscape
Delmec share their key takeaways and insights from TowerXchange Meetup Africa 2023
The TowerXchange Africa Meetup, a paramount gathering for leaders and experts in the telecommunications sector, recently convened to discuss and analyse the intricate dynamics of the African telecom landscape.
Representing Delmec, key figures from the leadership team provided valuable insights that collectively painted a comprehensive picture of the challenges and opportunities within the industry. This article delves into the key takeaways from their perspectives, offering an extensive exploration of the evolving telecom sector in Africa.
Market Dynamics and Opportunities
The prevailing theme echoing through the conversations had at the event revolves around the impact of macroeconomic factors on towercos' capex spending. The general trend of low investment in new builds is nuanced by exceptions in regions like Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where government interventions are actively promoting aggressive network rollouts.
This regional variation highlights the need for a tailored approach to navigate the diverse economic landscapes across the continent. Hassan Ismail, Head of International Operations, underscores the importance of focusing on the core business amidst economic challenges. This strategic focus includes an emphasis on cost-effective tower designs, consolidation initiatives, and serving underserved communities with low-cost structures.
Kealan Delaney, CEO of Delmec, reinforces these sentiments by pointing to the positive fundamentals of the market—youthful demographics, a surge in data demand, and substantial room for growth. The economic challenges, while acknowledged, are positioned as a backdrop against which strategic initiatives can drive continued progress.
Left to right: Sean Swanson, Commercial Director, Helios Towers; Salah Medawar, Chief Commercial Officer, i-engineering; Tom Muchiri, Commercial and Investment Manager, Atlas Towers; Bhavik Patel, Chief Commercial & Strategy Officer, AlanDick & Co; Steve Harris, Executive Chairman, Paradigm Infrastructure; Kealan Delaney, CEO, Delmec
Power and Energy Management
The centrality of power and energy management takes centre stage in discussions, emerging as a critical component of the telecom industry's evolution. Hassan Ismail highlights the demand for micro-sites and smart poles, particularly in Kampala, Uganda, driven by the proposed 5G rollout. The need for energy management solutions is further underscored by Kealan Delaney, who notes the dominance of power-related discussions at the event.
Discussions delve into the practical aspects of power optimization, including power probing tools and remote monitoring tools. A notable shift in perspective is the exploration of providing power as a separate service, indicating a potential shift in business models within the industry.
Kealan Delaney recognises the opportunity to evaluate energy management as a separate revenue stream, marking a significant departure from conventional revenue streams.
Security emerges as a pressing concern across the insights and conversations that took place in Johannesburg. Vandalism and theft are identified as significant challenges that the industry collectively needs to address.
Shawn Arendse, Senior Account Manager for Africa & MENA, emphasises the importance of robust security measures in Towerco operations. The recognition of security challenges reflects a shared understanding of the need to fortify telecom infrastructure against external threats.
Discussions also address the broader spectrum of site security, recognising the vulnerability of telecom infrastructure to theft and vandalism. The industry consensus is clear—security measures need to be proactive, adaptive, and robust to safeguard the continuity of telecom services.
Connectivity Gaps and Future Prospects
Shawn Arendse sheds light on the persistent demand for Power as a Service (PaaS) and off-the-grid solutions, indicating a growing recognition of the importance of sustainable and reliable power solutions.
Moreover, he underscores existing connectivity gaps in rural communities, coupled with a noticeable lack of smart device usage. This emphasises the industry's responsibility to bridge the digital divide and extend the benefits of connectivity to all corners of society.
Looking ahead, specific countries were identified for both short and long-term prospects. Tanzania and the DRC are highlighted as countries to watch in the near term, driven by their aggressive network rollouts.
For the longer term, Ethiopia and Egypt are pinpointed, contingent on the removal of market obstacles. These projections reflect a forward-looking approach, considering the evolving nature of the telecom sector in the African context.
In conclusion, the insights gathered at TowerXchange Africa Meetup collectively provide a rich tapestry of the current state and future potential of the African telecommunications sector. The industry's resilience in the face of economic challenges, strategic focus on core business aspects, and proactive responses to emerging trends are notable themes.
The emphasis on power, security, and connectivity as pivotal components of telecom infrastructure underscores a commitment to sustainable growth and inclusivity.
As the industry continues to evolve, these insights serve as guiding lights for navigating the complexities and seizing the abundant opportunities present in the dynamic African telecom landscape.
TowerXchange Africa Meetup not only showcased the challenges but also unveiled the potential for innovation and collaboration, paving the way for a resilient and vibrant future for telecom in Africa. The collective wisdom shared at the event sets the stage for transformative developments, reinforcing the industry's role as a catalyst for progress on the African continent.