WIOCC Appoints APTelecom as Channel Partner for commercialisation of Africa connectivity with a focus on clients in Asia and USA

Global Telecommunications Consulting and Service Company selected to support the continued commercialization of WIOCC’s network in Asia and the United States

Africa’s carriers’ carrier WIOCC, yesterday announced that it has engaged APTelecom, a facilities-based telecom consulting and service company specializing in emerging markets, as its International Sales partner for new client markets in Asia and the United States.

Eric Handa, CEO, APTelecom

“We are excited to be a part of such an important initiative in one of the world’s fastest-growing telecom markets, working within the WIOCC team to help extend their reach,” said Eric Handa, CEO of APTelecom.  “The demand for data continues to grow and this is especially true of Africa. Many of the world’s leading operators, OTTs and CDN players are seeking better ways to serve African markets and WIOCC is the logical choice as an African partner.”

 

WIOCC has a unique network which interconnects over 500 locations across more than 30 African countries by seamlessly linking a 55,000km pan-African terrestrial fibre-optic network with more than 40,000km of submarine cable assets, including EASSy, EIG and WACS.

Chris Wood, CEO, WIOCC

“APTelecom’s reach and expertise spans a wide range of emerging and established global markets and we are pleased to engage their services as an International Sales Partner,” commented Chris Wood, CEO of WIOCC.

“Africa is in the spotlight in the context of global growth as a key region of opportunity for the telecoms industry. APTelecom will assist us in promoting our capabilities in the key markets of Asia and the United States.”

WIOCC and APTelecom will be announcing updates in the coming weeks and months as their program gets underway                                                                         

About WIOCC

Operating exclusively as a wholesaler, WIOCC is revolutionising the delivery of high-capacity connectivity between Africa and the rest of the world. It is widely recognised as Africa’s carriers’ carrier, offering a one-stop-shop, end-to-end service between more than 30 African countries and the world’s key global financial and commercial centres. WIOCC recognizes that organisations’ needs differ and tailors its solutions to suit the specific requirements of each customer. Its unique, flexible, bandwidth packages are designed to enable carriers, mobile operators, internet service providers (ISPs), OTTs and Content Providers to take full advantage of Africa’s rapidly developing markets for fixed and mobile broadband, international corporate networking and access to compelling content and applications.

WIOCC’s Network

About APTelecom

APTelecom is a leading telecom and fibre consulting company specializing in emerging markets. APTelecom combines superior customer service, cost-competitive telecom products, and deep experience across the submarine cable and fibre industry to help clients achieve intelligent sustainable growth. Among the company’s core offerings are submarine cable pre-sales, established system sales, due diligence telecom consulting, cloud-based solutions and security, and strategic fibre consulting services.

Based in the United States, APTelecom’s reach and expertise spans a wide range of emerging global markets, including Angola, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Indonesia, as well as in several other countries across Asia and Africa. The company has been sought after for commentary on emerging market trends and been featured by dozens of media outlets, including Wired MagazineTechTalkWall Street JournalFox Business NetworkReutersYahoo NewsFierce TelecomSubTel Forum, and Commsday International, among others. APTelecom differentiates itself through quality, integrity, and innovation across their entire suite of products and services.

MEDIA INQUIRIES         

For more information about WIOCC, please contact info@wiocc.net or visit www.wiocc.net

To learn more about APTelecom, please contact info@aptelecom.com or visit www.aptelecom.com                                                                                                                 

A day in the life of James Wekesa, Chief Commercial Officer at WIOCC

James Wekesa is a deal maker. As the chief commercial officer at Africa’s carriers’ carrier WIOCC, Wekesa has an interesting and varied job which includes managing strong, mutually beneficial relationships with WIOCC’s 14 African shareholders.

These shareholders are made up from a mix of incumbent fixed-line operators, mobile challengers, wholesalers and even a regulator, some of which are submarine cable landing station owners, others being landlocked and dependent on cross-border arrangements for access to international connectivity.

These strong relationships are a key element in WIOCC’s ability to provide its own customers with excellent service, enabling it to deliver their traffic seamlessly via a unique 55,000km pan-African terrestrial network.

WIOCC’s shareholders are also the company’s key channel to market in their respective domestic markets.

“Every day is different, but typically it is either a ‘Travel day’ or an ‘Office day’,” explains Wekesa.

“On a ‘Travel day’ I’ll be based at the offices of one of WIOCC’s shareholders, where I’ll work with them on service-related, provisioning, organisational structure, technical or administrative issues. I also help individual shareholders make deals with third parties, including other WIOCC shareholders!”

On an “Office day”, Wekesa will work from WIOCC’s main office in Nairobi and could be involved in a wide variety of things: “from interfacing with specific internal teams on finance and provisioning issues, for example, to having strategy-related discussions with WIOCC’s CEO, liaising with assorted regulators and government departments across Africa, or on a weekly round-up call with one of the shareholders”.

Wekesa’s career has spanned over 15 years and he joined WIOCC in 2009 from the Afsat Communication Group where he was general manager for Kenya and group head of special projects amongst other positions.

Away from WIOCC, Wekesa keeps himself very busy by keeping fit with gym sessions five days a week and providing homework support for his two boys – who eagerly look forward to their regular ‘Friday night is pizza night’ outings.

Away from the family, Wekesa makes time to provide valuable support to a school some 400km outside of Nairobi.

Well-connected

CEO Chris Wood believes WIOCC’s achievements in the fast-paced global telecoms industry are due to its agility and quick decision-making processes.
The West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC) delivers internet connectivity to more than 550 locations across 30 African countries and to many more countries globally. It utilises more than 50 000 km of terrestrial fibre and at least 60 000 km of submarine fibre-optic cable to deliver capacity to some of Africa’s leading telcos and internet service providers (ISPs), as well as to global carriers, over-the-top (OTT) players and content providers operating in Africa. No wonder, then, that WIOCC CEO Chris Wood has been named among the Global Telecoms Business Power 100 for the past six years in a row.

Not that he’s paying too much attention to the label. ‘I take it with a pinch of salt, to be honest,’ he says. ‘Obviously, it’s nice to be on such a list, but in my mind, it’s more about recognising the value that the whole WIOCC team has created over the years. It’s recog­­nition of the company’s success, which is down to a lot more than just me as the CEO.’

‘When we decide to do something, we do it very
quickly. That’s enabled us to keep pace with the
change. If you spend too long trying to make
decisions, you can get left behind’

Still, there’s no denying the key role Wood has played in leading WIOCC since start-up in 2008, building the capacity wholesaler into Africa’s premier supplier of seamless, end-to-end managed service solutions outside and within the continent. WIOCC’s growth has tracked the phenomenal expansion – and the series of disruptive innovations and changes – in the global telecoms industry.

The secret to keeping ahead of those changes? It’s simple, says Wood. ‘Hire the right people. If you get the right people and you let them do their jobs, a lot of it looks after itself. Yes, there is a lot of change, but as a leader part of my job is to spot the trends, keep ahead of the curve, and make sure that we position the company to be able to adapt to the change.’

Here Wood points to WIOCC’s agility and speed of implementation as two of the factors behind its success. ‘Fast decision-making is key to working in a changing market,’ he says. ‘When we decide to do something, we do it very quickly. That’s enabled us to keep pace with the change. If you spend too long trying to make decisions, you can get yourself in a position where you’re left behind.’

WIOCC is jointly owned by 14 major African telcos, all of which are leading operators in their respective markets – from Uganda Telecom and Telkom Kenya to Tanzania’s Zantel, Libya’s LPTIC and Bots­­wana’s BoFiNet. So how does Wood as CEO manage all the various – and, in some cases, competing – interests?

‘The telecoms industry is actually a pretty incestuous business,’ he says. ‘Everybody is your customer, shareholder, competitor, partner, supplier… Over the years you get to know how to work in that kind of environment. It’s a very collaborative industry in many ways.

‘Our biggest competitors are sometimes both our partners and our suppliers, so you have to work with everybody. You can’t work in isolation and think you’re going to build it all. You’re always going to need to have partnerships.’

Regarding the 14 telcos that make up the WIOCC board, Wood says: ‘They’re all very different. We have a range of government-owned telcos, privately-owned telcos, global telcos and pan-African telcos, all sitting in the same room. Sometimes it is a challenge to get everybody moving in the same direction, but to their credit, over the past nine years I can only remember a couple of times when there’s been real disagreement in the board. Generally, it’s a very productive and well-run boardroom, and everybody works together to deliver the success that WIOCC has achieved.’

When the company launched in 2008, there were about 51 million internet users in Africa. Today there are more than 353 million – an explosion in internet penetration that has forced Africa’s telcos and ISPs to keep pace with massive changes. ‘But the market in Africa doesn’t exist in a vacuum,’ says Wood.

‘It exists within the global ICT market. To an extent, African development has followed similar paths to other parts of the world that enjoyed high connectivity rates much earlier than we did. Over the next few years, the volumes that we see will be orders of magnitude greater than they are today. I think we’re really only scratching the surface at the moment in terms of capacity utilisation.’

Wood predicts huge increases in volumes of African internet traffic in the coming year, and a shift from many smaller users to a concentration of big OTT content players. ‘In recent months and years, we’ve seen the likes of Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Amazon and Facebook all coming to Africa, and I think they will be driving the growth in the next few years, rather than small companies,’ he says.

‘As a company that focuses on delivering carrier-scale supporting infrastructure, WIOCC is well placed to work with these bigger players. It’s another exciting chapter in the development of African infrastructure.’

 

NOT competing for Enterprise business (shock!)

Business parks and shopping malls across South Africa are firmly on the commercial radar of small to mid-sized Internet Service Providers (ISPs), wireless ISPs (WISPs) and operators because most enterprises in these areas want reliable, cost-effective direct access to the global internet.

WIOCC, which created the Johannesburg Metro Fibre Internet Access (MFIA) network, has reconfirmed its wholesale approach and will not compete directly for this end-user business. Instead, WIOCC remains firmly focused on enabling such suppliers to target enterprise customers and prospects with ever-more competitive solutions.

WIOCC COO Ryan Sher explained: “As a committed wholesaler, WIOCC is dedicated to supporting its ISP and WISP customers in targeting this important channel. We are looking to work with more of these types of businesses, offering them the ability to develop competitive, easily-scalable, high-performance solutions for the enterprise market”.

WIOCC’s Johannesburg MFIA includes more than 40 PoPs (Points of Presence) and provides direct access, over a fully redundant network, to more than 2,000 business customers’ premises across 95 business parks and numerous shopping malls in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

A key factor for enterprises in their choice of connectivity provider is the level of uptime they can expect. Providers offering a solution that’s underpinned by WIOCC’s unique, diversity-rich, high-redundancy network – incorporating 55,000km of terrestrial fibre in Africa and more than 60,000km of submarine cable – are extremely well positioned to offer excellent service levels.

…and as WIOCC has invested in building its own extremely scalable, high-capacity domestic and international network, it is also able to offer ISPs, WISPs and operators very competitive prices for carrying traffic.

Owning the network makes it easy for WIOCC to deliver scalable and flexible solutions, which can be of great value, particularly to enterprise customers operating in dynamic markets and environments.

With its new Jo’burg Metro and extensive South African network, WIOCC is now offering partnership opportunities to South African ISPs, WISPs and operators looking to profit from the growing number of enterprises seeking cost-effective, high-quality internet connectivity.

Article published in partnership with Mybroadband

The Capacity Market In Africa: The Impact of OTT Players And The Evolving Connectivity Landscape

Mike Last, Chief Marketing Officer and VP, International Business Development at Africa’s Carriers’ Carrier article featured on   Submarine Telecoms Forum speaking about the capacity market in Africa, and the impact of OTT players on the connectivity landscape, in their latest issue (#94).

Topics to read are herewith mentioned below: 

  • Africa: A continent of growing opportunities
  • Meeting the ultra – high demand of OTTs
  • Increasing Africa’s submarine cable capacity and diversity
  • End-to-end services bring wholesaler customers closer to their own customers
  • The largest metropolitan area network in Africa

For detailed information read here.

 

WIOCC’s support for Kenya Wildlife Service – Lion conservation in Kenya

Africa’s carriers’ carrier WIOCC is extending its support to African lions by donating 500,000 Kenyan Shillings-worth (equivalent to $4,860 US Dollars) of much-needed drugs and consumables to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). These are for use in veterinary interventions, including the safe immobilisation of lions prior to medical examinations or surgical procedures, or when lions require relocation back to areas of safety.

For many years, African wildlife has been dear to the heart of Chris Wood, CEO of Africa’s carriers’ carrier WIOCC, which has its main office in Nairobi, Kenya.

After the sad killing of Mohawk – a majestic, 13-year-old lion with a distinctive black mane that strayed away from the Nairobi National Park in late March 2016 and was shot dead before a suitably-equipped veterinary team could reach him – Chris began raising funds for the KWS through multiple activities and initiatives, starting at a global telecommunications industry event in Chicago that May.

Mr Wood explains: “Following this initial support, I wanted to see how WIOCC could partner with KWS moving forward. Out of this came the donation of additional anaesthetic drugs and medical consumables for use by veterinarians during wildlife rescues. The hope is that this will help prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future”.

In a joint statement, Dr Isaac Lekolool, Senior Veterinary Officer at KWS, and Idza Dzilla, from the KWS Resource Mobilization Office, explained the difference this partnership with WIOCC will make: “Lions are beautiful but vulnerable animals and we are committed to helping protect and conserve them. The anesthetic drugs that WIOCC has so generously donated will help us carry out vital veterinary procedures on these wonderful and endangered animals“.

WIOCC: helping meet South Africa’s connectivity needs

Business Tech – Award-winning capacity wholesaler WIOCC is the leading supplier of international bandwidth for Africa and now carries almost half of all the traffic on EASSy.

Since its formation in 2008, WIOCC has played a key role in South Africa’s emergence as an international hub for traffic to and from the southern half of the continent, bringing significant amounts of traffic into the country from Europe and Asia, from Africa’s eastern seaboard, and from landlocked countries such as Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In this period the market has changed considerably in terms of what carriers and ISPs want: from pure point-to-point bandwidth in the early days; to point-to-point bandwidth with partial redundancy;and now seamless protection and support for the more complex network solutions they are increasingly delivering – which WIOCC is helping them with.

As the market has developed WIOCC has grown its presence in South Africa, setting up its WIOCC South Africa operating company in 2012 to serve the needs of its expanding customer base in the southern Africa region.

SOUTH

WIOCC creates Africa’s largest metropolitan area network
In 2016 WIOCC created the Johannesburg metropolitan area network (MAN), which is due to go live by the end of September.The Johannesburg MAN will give carriers and ISPs easy access direct to their customers’ doorsteps and comprises three core PoPs and over 39 aggregation and customer-provided PoPs.

Additional infrastructure investments that will further extend WIOCC’s national coverage are in the pipeline.To support customers with their diversity requirements, WIOCC invests in all the major cable systems serving South Africa and continues to expand a diversely-routed terrestrial network that interconnects key cities and provides East-West coast diversity.

WIOCC CEO Chris Wood one of the 100 most powerful people in global telecoms

Chris Wood, CEO of Africa’s carriers’ carrier WIOCC, has once again been identified as one of the 100 most powerful people in the global telecommunications industry.

Chris WoodThis year’s GTB Power 100 cited Chris’ vision of making an enduring contribution to communications in Africa, while also acknowledging WIOCC’s progress in extending access to international connectivity to many new locations through the construction of WIOCC metropolitan area networks and the continued partnership with Dalkom in Somalia.

He has led WIOCC since start-up in 2008, building the capacity wholesaler into the leading supplier of seamless, end-to-end managed service solutions into, out of and within Africa. WIOCC now carries almost half of all the traffic on EASSy and seamlessly links more than 55,000km of African terrestrial fibre to 40,000km of submarine fibre-optic cable, offering carriers affordable, reliable connectivity to over 500 locations across 30 African countries – and more than 700 cities in 70 countries globally.

Chris continues to evolve WIOCC’s capabilities in alignment with changing industry needs and end-user demands: from pure point-to-point bandwidth in the early days, to the seamless protection and support for more complex network solutions that carriers and ISPs are increasingly delivering today – with support from WIOCC.

Chris commented, “Whilst I am delighted to again be selected for inclusion in the GTB Power 100, this is very much a reflection of the individual efforts put in throughout the year by the entire WIOCC team. A key element of our Mission is to set the standard by which performance is measured in the industry, and each of us in WIOCC will continue our efforts to make this so”.

The Power 100 list is compiled from nominations made by readers of Global Telecoms Business, including CEOs, CFOs and other senior executives of the world’s major operators, telecom vendors and industry organisations.

Q&A with Bill Boyle of Capacity Media : Chris Wood, CEO, WIOCC

Chris Wood, CEO of WIOCC speaks to Capacity Media about demand challenges, point-to-point bandwidth and how it has created Africa’s largest metropolitan area network (MAN).

What are the main challenges of operating in the African market and hoChris Woodw are you looking to tackle those challenges?
As Africa’s carriers’ carrier, WIOCC now transports almost half of all the traffic on the EASSy submarine cable and is the leading supplier of wholesale bandwidth for Africa. We see our main challenge as keeping ahead of the demand. Our market is evolving considerably in terms of what carriers and ISPs want: from pure point-to-point bandwidth in the early days; to point-to-point bandwidth with partial redundancy;and now they are increasingly looking for seamless protection and support for the more complex network solutions they are delivering for their customers into multiple countries in the region.

We have to stay relevant to our customers by providing the advanced connectivity solutions that this dynamic market demands. To do this WIOCC continues to invest in building its highly scalable and cost-effective core infrastructure, technology and human capital, as well as enhancing and extending its network and service capabilities.

What have been the highlights and key developments for your company in the region in the past year?
WIOCC continues to develop its seamless, end-to-end managed services capabilities to meet the evolving demands of Africa’s wholesale markets. The main highlight this year has been the creation of Africa’s largest metropolitan area network (MAN) in Johannesburg, S. Africa, which comprises three core PoPs and over 39 aggregation and customer-provided PoPs. Additional infrastructure investments that will further extend WIOCC’s national coverage are in the pipeline. The Johannesburg MAN offers carriers the opportunity to connect directly to hundreds of customer locations across the business districts of Johannesburg and Pretoria over WIOCC’s network and is expected to go live by the end of October.

Earlier in the year, WIOCC gave its customers enhanced access to the global internet, while also enhancing WIOCC’s network connectivity redundancy, by establishing new remote peering internet exchange points in Virginia, New York, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

What are your strategic priorities as well as expansion plans for the region in 2017?
WIOCC’s mission is to make an enduring contribution to communications in Africa. Our focus moving forward is very much on continuing to invest in growing and extending our network and capabilities to help customers overcome complex connectivity challenges in Africa via seamless, end-to-end, managed connectivity solutions into, within and out of the continent.

What major trends do you see occurring in the African market this year and how do you plan to capitalise on those?
In the wholesale market, WIOCC expects to see continued demand for seamless connectivity to the internet in Europe (much of it protected via delivery on multiple cable systems), as well as growth in the provision of high-quality local IP Transit services.

In specific markets, the ability to cost-effectively terminate traffic directly to customer premises will become increasingly significant as a differentiator, as will the ability to meet customers’ demands for increasingly tailored, complex solutions. These are both areas in which WIOCC is continuing to invest.

What does your organisation hope to achieve by attending Capacity Africa 2016?
Capacity Africa is without doubt the leading event for the African wholesale telecoms industry, attracting very strong attendance from African and international carriers. We see Capacity Africa as a great environment for doing business, showcasing our capabilities and networking with existing and potential partners.

Ends…

WIOCC CEO Chris Wood Bullish About Africa’s International Bandwidth Growth

London – Africa’s international bandwidth markets are experiencing another growth bump with the roll-out of LTE moving ahead apace. Whereas the minimum unit to buy was an E1, it’s now an STM1. Russell Southwood spoke to Chris Wood, CEO of WIOCC about how he sees the market.

WIOCC’s Chris Wood told me that he was building out metronets in Johannesburg: ”We’re buying (dark fibre) from DFA and we’ll launch 39 PoPs around that. This is exactly what we want to be doing. We’re not making money from it but driving traffic onto our core assets.”

The amount of capacity used by his consortium’s members and its customers has doubled in volume in the last 12 months and he thinks that this kind of growth will continue over the next 5 years.

Chris Wood

Chris Wood, CEO of WIOCC

“This growth is driven in the final instance by local access networks. The higher the broadband speeds, the more people will use them. The big content players have all come to the continent to build their business here: Netflix, Amazon, Facebook and Google. AT&T, Sprint and Verizon all want to bring Africa into the mainstream of their networks. 4G plays into that. 5G is coming. Most end-users are accessing content on mobile devices and the price of handsets has come down. High capacity demand (also) comes with Fibre-To-The-Home. The difference is dramatic. In Kenya you’ve got four players doing this: Wananchi, FON, Jamii and Liquid Telecom. Most housing estates of a certain level – professionals – are fibre connected. I have 27 mbps coming into my house and can stream TV, both locally and internationally.” The impact of 4G and FTTH is that operators are now buying STM16s and not STM4s or STM1s.

The above might sound very uplifting but what about a smaller and more challenging market like Somalia? ”We went live there in February 2014. Volumes have been doubling every 6 months. We’ve just sold an STM16 and there’s about 10 Gbps in service in Mogadishu and that will probably double between now and the end of the year. There are metronets around Mogadishu and all the mobile networks are 3G. People are getting online at an affordable level.”

One impact of the rise in volumes sold has been a pattern of falling prices. The most dramatic illustration of this is at wholesale level (STM16-STM64), prices in South Africa have fallen to US$5 per mbps. Sadly, some of us are old enough to remember when such bandwidth used to cost thousands of dollars per Mbps. It is a sign of Africa’s online growth that prices are falling and volumes growing. It’s not easy for cable operators but great news for Africa’s Internet users. Obviously prices remain higher in harder to reach countries like DRC, particularly its eastern half. I met a colleague from Goma this week who told me that mobile operators there had actually put up retail mobile internet access prices. As Sci-Fi writer William Gibson says: “The future’s already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.”

But the dramatic fall in prices – particularly in South Africa – makes Wood skeptical of the new international fibre projects recently announced: ”With these low South Africa rates, you’re already below build costs. EASSy will add 2 Tbps next year for a few million dollars. (The fibre projects) from Africa One and Liquid Telecom don’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s a $200 million system that needs to recover it’s money over a 3-4 year period. I can’t see that being possible in Africa over that time. You can buy an IRU on any system at very competitive rates. If they get built, cable prices will go down faster and it’s more than the market can soak up.”

In addition to these two new cables, the Angola Cables project from Angola to Brazil (with a Miami link) was confirmed at ITW, the long awaited phase two extension of ACE to South Africa is happening and there will be an upgrade on WACS.

He’s also clear that there should be a solution to the spate of international cable outages there have been: “We all need to buy from every system. Big operators can easily swop capacity.”And the saddest story? Eritrea: ”It’s a sad case. We have tried over the years to get them to join WIOCC. It’s the only country without international fibre. Other routes also made offers and they were not taken up. They need to take advantage of them as no-one will build to their door otherwise.”