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Interview: Willie Oosthuysen on Liquid Intelligent Technologies' African strategy

Willie Oosthuysen, chief strategy officer at Liquid Intelligent Technologies, spoke to Connecting Africa Editor Paula Gilbert at the NOVACOM Digital Transformation Strategy Summit in Franschhoek, South Africa, about the company's strategy for Africa.

He gave us an overview of the company's fiber reach in Africa and the evolution of the company as it expands not only fiber but its businesses in the data center market, in cybersecurity and cloud and also in submarine cable investment.

He shared his views on how the satellite market is changing in Africa and how the entrance of international companies like SpaceX's Starlink are factoring into the connectivity mix on the continent.

"Low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites are definitely an opportunity. There are regulatory barriers that people still have to overcome and that is where we believe we come in to localize some of those services. We have licenses, we've got relationships with local authorities for regulatory localization of the service, for example," he said.

"We do still see that prices are very high. They are dollar based, so there are still barriers to entry for [satellite operators] to make it affordable. But in some cases it's the last resort [for rural areas] but we definitely see it as a partnership opportunity to help them localize those services," he added.

Liquid Dataport already provides very small aperture terminal (VSAT) service across 27 countries, and Oosthuysen said that satellite offers a good backup option for industries like banking and retail to maintain connectivity even during power outages.

He also spoke about 5G and the use cases for Africa – in particular, fixed wireless access (FWA) and enterprise 5G for industries like mining.

Oosthuysen added that he doesn't see technologies like 5G or satellite ever completely replacing fiber but rather remaining complementary services.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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