Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.


Vodacom outlines fiber ambitions as it awaits approval of MAZIV deal

Article Image
Vodacom has ambitions to increase its fiber reach, specifically in low-income areas, though a deal with South African fiber company MAZIV – but has been waiting 18 months for the investment to be approved.

Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub believes the proposed purchase of a joint venture stake in MAZIV will assist in narrowing the digital divide by enabling affordable access to connectivity in South Africa's underserved areas through what he calls "an ambitious fiber roll-out program."

The deal has been on the cards since November 2021, when Vodacom announced it would make a strategic investment in Community Investment Ventures Holdings (CIVH), worth about $875 million.

CIVH owns major South African fiber players Vumatel and Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), which merged and rebranded as MAZIV in September 2022.

The Vodacom acquisition was given conditional approval by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) in October 2022, and is now waiting for approval from South Africa's Competition Commission and then the Competition Tribunal. If the deal goes through, Vodacom will own a 30% stake in MAZIV, with the option to acquire an additional 10% stake later.

"We are still hopeful that we will have the support of the Commission, given the transformational nature of the deal, and what the deal means for South Africa, also in terms of job creations, etc. There have been some very firm commitments that have been made by the parties – both the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (DTIC) and the Commission, in terms of public interest commitments," Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub told Connecting Africa in an interview.

These include commitments on job creation, additional capital investment in MAZIV and fiber network expansion into low-income areas.

"Let's just say I can't see why it wouldn't be approved because it's such a transformational deal. We really need more connectivity in South Africa, we really need a model that takes fiber to the lower-income groupings," he added.

He couldn't give specifics on the commitment but explained that with any deal of this size there is always a public interest element.

"Those discussions have been had, and I think we've had a meeting of minds of what those obligations are. So, I think that's encouraging in terms of progress on the deal itself," he said.

Increasing fiber penetration

Joosub said that fiber penetration remains low in South Africa, and the partnership with MAZIV would enable Vodacom to roll out more fiber and specifically expand more into underserved areas.

"That fiber penetration would also help with 5G because at the back of a mobile network is a fixed network. The deal also provides cash, which helps MAZIV to grow faster," he said.

"MAZIV has a good model to take the fiber into townships and into low-income groupings and that's the intention – to try and expand the number of homes passed and the number of homes connected. Through that process it will create jobs for suppliers, but also for more direct selling opportunities. So it's quite a detailed plan that's been put forward," he explained.

"I think it's quite an exciting opportunity on a number of fronts – there's the level of investment that's going to go into the country itself, the fiber, the homes connected, the suppliers that will benefit locally, and so on, as we roll out. But also distribution channels, because if you're going to a township, you'll create distribution within the township," he added.

Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub is hopeful that Vodacom's planned investment in MAZIV will gain Competition Commission approval.   (Source: Vodacom)
Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub is hopeful that Vodacom's planned investment in MAZIV will gain Competition Commission approval.
(Source: Vodacom)

Joosub said MAZIV has already been successful in providing cost-effective offerings in low-income areas through Vumatel, and has found a good model to address the underlying cost of how to provide that fiber.

Fiber plans across Africa

He said there are also plans to partner more with MAZIV to roll out fiber in Vodacom's other markets outside of South Africa.

"The next one we would like to do is Tanzania, where we're having conversations, but also the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho and Mozambique – I think [it] will be those four that we focus on now."

"In Kenya, Safaricom has got quite a nice [fiber] play already. They've already got 500,000 homes. But of course, in the future, we'd like to do more on fiber in Egypt and in Ethiopia as well," he told Connecting Africa.

"[MAZIV] will be partnering with us and then rolling out together, leveraging on some of our assets as well, so that we don't duplicate. But there will be dedicated teams in each country," Joosub concluded.

Related posts:

*Top image source: MAZIV.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub


Four agritech startups to watch in 2024

Connecting Africa has compiled a list of four agritech startups that are making a difference in the communities they serve.


Paymentology looks to strengthen its African roots

Global issuer-processor Paymentology's CEO Jeff Parker spoke to Connecting Africa about the company's African roots and aspirations to work with more banks, fintechs and enterprises both on the continent and globally.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Upcoming events

Africa Tech Festival 2024
November 11-14, 2024
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Africa Tech Perspectives


Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.


The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.


Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

More Africa Tech perspectives

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: February 2024

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in February 2024 in the Middle East and Africa included 5G launches in Senegal and 5G trials in Egypt as well as Kenya's first 5G MVNO. Airtel also launched a new wholesale connectivity business while MTN and Huawei are planning a joint Innovation Technology Lab in South Africa – that and more in this month's Omdia View.


Omdia View: January 2024

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in January 2024 in the Middle East and Africa included a $200 million fintech deal between MTN and Mastercard as well as 5G network trials by Telecom Egypt – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up
Tag id test-002