South Africa’s telco regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) announced that it has approved fibre network operator Dark Fibre Africa’s transfer of its operating licenses to Vodacom.
In November 2021, Vodacom announced that it would shell out R6 billion ($337.5 million) in cash, and fibre assets valued at R4 billion for a 30% stake in MAZIV, a newly formed holding company which encompasses Dark Fibre Africa’s (DFA) fibre assets.
DFA is South Africa’s second largest fibre network operator (FNO), after Telkom-owned Openserve. Control of its assets will give a significant boost in South Africa telco’s fibre battle to Vodacom, the country’s biggest mobile network operator by subscriber base.
ICASA stated that it only gave its approval after taking into consideration a number of elements of the application, including its impact on competition in the country’s ICT sector, whether the deal would be in the best interest of consumers, and whether it would have equity ownership provisions for historically disadvantaged persons.
“The Authority has approved the proposed transaction after careful consideration. We view the transaction as unlikely to negatively impact the market while making the Transferee an effective player in the market. Additionally, the Authority views the proposed transaction to be in the best interest of the public,” stated Councillor Luthando Mkumatela, Chairperson of the responsible Council Committee.
With MTN’s acquisition of Telkom having fallen through, the DFA licenses will likely give Vodacom a significant headstart in the battle for fibre dominance, which is essential for 5G rollout.
A strong fibre network will ensure that Vodacom will be able to support its own push for 5G, as well as lease out its network to other operators for their 5G services.