Chief Executive designate Schalk Erasmus eyes doubling Paratus Group’s revenue within the next 5 years
By Clifton Movirongo.
Schalk Erasmus, the longtime Chief Operating Officer and now designated Chief Executive Designate of Paratus Group is eyeing to double the Group’s revenue within the next 3-5 years, he said.
In an interview with the Economist on Paratus’ plans, Erasmus emphasized that the company is committed to doubling its revenue by 2027, adding that the Group’s plan for expansion and growth is through investing and deploying the best infrastructure, and through mergers and acquisitions. He also added that the Group’s focus will be regional including the West, Central, East, and southern African regions.
When asked how his new role will change now that he is the Chief Executive designate, Erasmus explained: “Now my focus is to be the bridge between the Board, the executive team, and the senior management team that runs the businesses throughout Africa. Because, currently, we are in seven African countries operationally, but we provide services in more than 35 African countries.”
He added that in his previous role as Chief Operating Officer, he was more involved with major projects operationally and currently finishing off the Armada Data Center in Windhoek, which he said is the first carrier-neutral data center in the country. “I’ve been quite involved with running that project. I’ve also been involved with previous projects like the Trans-Kalahari Fibre Project,” he said.
According to Erasmus, among his key objectives are to lead Group Exco and country managing directors; to work together with the Chair and Board of Directors; to grow revenue and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization; and to assist strategically and operationally.
Reminiscing about his long Paratus career, Erasmus said his relationship with the current CEO, and Executive Chairman designate of Paratus Group, Barney Harmse, began about 25 years ago, at which point Harmse asked Erasmus to run his dial-up service as he had to leave for Angola at the time.
“We’ve been working very closely together for the last 17 years since we started officially in 2005, it’s been 17 years since the business has been operational. My role has changed from technical, as I was the technical director at one stage and became an operational manager and then eventually the Chief Operating Officer. And I’ve always been a backup for Barney as the CEO,” he said.
Paratus was founded as Internet Technologies Angola in 2003, and then expanded to Namibia as Internet Technologies Namibia as the first privately and 100% wholly owned Namibian telecommunications operator. However, the company has been on a transformation journey, growing from an internet service provider to a telecommunication service provider, and now given that digital technology has been experiencing exponential growth, a digital service provider.
“We’ve known each other for 25 plus years and we’ve been working closely together and we still are going to be working closely together. Harmse’s focus will change as the Executive Chairman’s role from chairing all the board meetings, to supporting me in my role as CEO. Further, helping to build the brand across Africa and then also to keep the culture,” he said.
In addition, he said Harmse’s focus will now be a more high-level strategy, entailing a significant role in maintaining disciplines and principles and also lobbying. Further, Erasmus insisted that he and Harmse share the same vision for Paratus, a company that they have been co-founders of since the beginning.
Erasmus will still be operating from Windhoek after he is officially sworn in as Chief Executive on August 1. He, however, will be interfacing partly online with managing directors of various Paratus subsidiaries as well as engaging them partly in person as is the case with most multinationals. He added that apart from frequent online meetings, Group Exco also visits the other branches fairly often for various meetings.