DFA aims to establish 20 000 business connections by March 2016, the end of its current financial year. This is significantly more than the company currently has in its fibre to the business network.These connections will provide businesses across South Africa with access to a high-speed fibre optic network via an internet service provider (ISP) of their choice.
There is an increase in demand for fibre optic network connectivity across South Africa, which is partly due to the country playing catch up to other more developed markets around the world. According to Reshaad Sha, chief strategy officer at DFA, “Although there are several drivers leading to increased demand for connectivity, we have identified that globally cloud computing is a critical driver for the adoption of fibre based connectivity. In order for cloud computing to deliver the benefits of cost saving, business continuity and business agility, it requires a secure and super-fast connection that only a fibre network can provide.”
Although cloud adoption in Africa is still in its infancy, demand for cloud services are growing in the private sector across South Africa. Almost half of 100 JSE-listed corporations are using a form of cloud computing as they are looking to use innovative solutions to develop a competitive edge and drive efficiencies across the business.
“The challenge that many of these businesses face is that the demand for bandwidth is dependent on availability and ease of access, but the demand is needed to motivate for the investment in this infrastructure,” says Sha.
To address this challenge, DFA will expand its network and simplify the ease of access to this high-speed fibre network for businesses across all major and secondary cities across South Africa. This will complement the work that is being done by various ISPs that have, over the past 18 months, accelerated their enterprise sales activity to increase market penetration and connect customers to fibre based networks.
According to Sha: “This is a step in the right direction to help South Africa to catch up to some of the more developed and even some of the emerging markets around the world that have already invested significantly in fibre connectivity.”
The Network Readiness Index 2014 which ranks countries in terms of ICT readiness, digital infrastructures and robust innovation systems, ranks South Africa at number 70 while countries such as Brazil (69), Mauritius (48), Turkey (51) and Saudi Arabia (32) rank higher. In terms of the readiness sub-index which looks at infrastructure, affordability and skills, South Africa ranks even lower at 98 out of 144 countries across the globe.
“By investing in our fibre networks, we aim to help address two of the drivers mentioned in the readiness sub-index, namely infrastructure availability and affordability. In doing this, we will provide the infrastructure needed for companies to adopt cloud based services, use collaboration tools and leverage technologies that will support their own innovations and business growth,” he adds.