Vodacom and MTN are increasing their stakes in fibre.

If their recent moves are anything to go by, it seems like pan-African mobile network operators, Vodacom and MTN, are doubling down on their fibre bets as the race for dominance heats up.

According to Bloomberg, MTN is planning to construct an inland fibre cable to connect ten countries at a cost of $320 million. The cable will comprise 20 000 kilometres of new fibre cabling which will interconnect over 100 000 kilometres of existing fibre.

The project, which will be done in three phases, is expected to be completed by 2025. Additionally, MTN’s GlobalConnect wing, which is being turned into a separate subsidiary, plans to roll out a total of 135 000 kilometres of fibre by 2025, generating as much as $1 billion in revenue.

Vodacom, on the other hand, also plans to expand its fibre business, pending the Competition Commission’s approval of its $693 million deal with Remgro. Through the deal, Vodacom plans to expand its fibre offering into some of its other operating countries, including Tanzania and the Congo. 

In November last year, South Africa’s telco regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) announced that it had approved fibre network operator Dark Fibre Africa’s transfer of its operating licences 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 currently South Africa’s second largest fibre network operator.

Despite the major investments by the two telco giants, in South Africa, Telkom, another mobile network operator, currently dominates the fibre industry in the country through its subsidiary, Openserve.

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