Satellite systems firm bullish on Africa

2nd April 2004 By: candice haase

The rapid development of economic activity on the African continent south of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) prompted turnkey wireless and satellite systems supplier GS Telecom Africa to establish itself in Johannesburg.

The local branch, which formally opened its doors last month, will serve as the sales support centre for GS Telecom clients north of South African borders, the reason being that the regulatory environment in South Africa does not present an opportunity for the company to take root in the local market.

But GM Phil Hewitt believes that when the local market is opened up to the services and technology the company renders, it will be a potentially large market for satellite systems.

In the meantime, the South African office will serve as the telecommunication company’s support hub.

He adds that the company will continue to draw on the local human-resources pool as the company grows its business in Africa.

GS Telecom provides multinationals, corporates, banks and embassies with secure networks, allowing them to operate from multiple sites.

“We target businesses that need to transmit information to their head offices from remote areas,” Hewitt comments.

He notes that the DRC currently presents the greatest opportunities for the satellite- and wireless-communications solution provider as it has a wealth of resources to be tapped into but little communications infrastructure.

“To develop the DRC’s economy will no doubt require the services of multiple satellite operators,” he states.

GS Telecom hopes to become one of these operators.

This reflects what Hewitt describes as the company’s opportunistic approach to conducting business.

Moreover, the burgeoning oil and gas industry on the continent is another potential sector to which GS Telecom is introducing its technology. The wireless and satellite communications infrastructure the company has already established allows its clients in Africa access to its satellite hubs in the US, Canada and the UK.

It also has international carrier licences in Nigeria, Ghana, C