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Governments play a crucial role taking Africa to the next stage in its digital evolution but cross-border cooperation is essential

Governments play a crucial role taking Africa to the next stage in its digital evolution but cross-border cooperation is essential

APO – Morocco – Africa still lags behind the rest of the world in its digital transformation, and in spite of a growing number of innovative solutions, the ongoing lack of adequate infrastructure and connectivity is preventing the continent from realising its true economic potential. The best and fastest way to overcome these barriers, may lie in heightened cooperation between countries and their various regulators.

This is according to James Claude, the Chief Executive of Global Voice Group (GVG) – a provider of IT solutions to governments and regulatory authorities – who said that while many countries in Africa are individually working to increase their infrastructure and digital capabilities, the most effective solution will be to approach these challenges from a regional perspective.

While attending the 5th Crans Montana Forum in Dakhla, Morocco earlier in March, Claude noted that African governments have a crucial role to play in taking the continent to the next stage in its digital evolution.

“Businesses, universities and young entrepreneurs are increasingly contributing to the digital economy and fostering innovation in Africa. Governments now need to work towards helping these private sector players to grow their solutions more rapidly and affect real change on the continent. This will require harmonising regulations that allow businesses and services to expand beyond country borders.”

Africa’s potential as a global leader in the world’s digital economy grows significantly with each passing year. Africa’s population is increasing exponentially, and is expected to reach between 1.379 billion and 1.486 billion by 2025. In addition to this, the market penetration of digital technology is accelerating. Importantly, it is predicted that half of Africa’s entire population is expected to own smartphones by 2020, which already goes a long way towards overcoming infrastructural barriers to digital transformation and connecting people and services online.

“Building on this, mobile money platforms such as M-Pesa has fundamentally changed the way that money is circulated on the continent. E-commerce is also growing rapidly as a result of mobile money, with online retailers that accept mobile payments even providing people without bank accounts access to a greater variety of goods. Similarly, small and medium businesses are able to increase sales and overcome many infrastructure restraints.”

Claude explained that governments across the continent must build on this by creating more digital services based in Africa, facilitating more local tech companies, and continuing to invest in education and incubators that allow citizens to fully access and benefit from digital transformation.

“Equally vital, is to ensure that regulators in every region and country have the visibility, transparency and the necessary data to make informed decisions that will help the digital economy across the different jurisdictions. This is an area in which GVG already has a lot of experience, having pioneered the regulatory technology solution, RegTech on the continent.”

“Our solutions provide key data that help regulators to migrate from paper-based institutions to digital ones. We will continue to play this role, and focusing on Big Data for better regulation, compliance monitoring, revenue assurance, fraud prevention and also Digital Identity. We believe that these will be the key enablers allowing Africa’s citizens to become active participants in the digital economy instead of mere consumers of imported digital goods. Digital ID will also be key to improve better government services delivery,” Claude concluded.


Caption: James Claude (left), Chief Executive of Global Voice Group with Pierre Emmanuel Quirin, Chief Executive of Crans Montana.


 

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Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia

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20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.