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Interview: Fernando Borjón on Mexico’s Woan

Mexico is often held up by the South African government as an example of a successful wholesale open-access network (Woan), the type of network it’s keen to roll out to make the local telecommunications market more competitive.
But how successful has Mexico’s Woan – known as Red Compartida – been? TechCentral editor Duncan McLeod sat down with Fernando Borjón, general director of Mexico’s Telecommunications Investment Promotion Agency, or Promtel, to get a better understanding of the project, why the country embarked on it and the lessons learnt so far.
In the podcast, Borjón talks about the history of the Mexican telecoms market, how it came to be dominated by one operator – Carlos Slim’s América Móvil – and how the country hopes Red Compartida will break Slim’s monopoly hold over the sector.
What could – and should – South Africa learn from the Mexican example, and are the two markets even remotely comparable? Could a Woan help loosen MTN and Vodacom’s dominance on the country’s mobile sector? And what mistakes should be avoided?
Borjón explains why Mexico decided to give Red Compartida exclusive access to the 700MHz band and not other bands, why the country mandated its creation in the constitution and what adoption has been like so far.
It’s a fascinating discussion about a topic that has a direct bearing on the future of South Africa’s telecoms industry. Don’t miss it!

Interview: Alison Gillwald on the state of ICT in SA

In this episode of the podcast, Duncan McLeod interviews Research ICT Africa executive director Alison Gillwald about the state of South Africa's ICT sector.
Gillwald, who also serves as adjunct professor at the University of Cape Town's Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, talks about what the country is getting right - and wrong - in expanding access to technology and the Internet.
Why have smaller and better-priced mobile operators struggled to win over customers from the dominant players? How can South Africa get smart devices in the hands of more people? What is the role of a universal service fund? Should government be involved directly in the telecommunications industry, or should it get out?
Does government's planned wholesale open-access network make sense? How should radio frequency spectrum be licensed? Are Vodacom and MTN too dominant, and if so what could and should be done to address this?
Gillwald discusses all of these questions, and much more, in the podcast. Don't miss it!

Interview: Communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane

In this episode of the podcast, Duncan McLeod interviews communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane on digital terrestrial television migration and the future of the SABC and public broadcasting in South Africa.
Mokonyane, who was speaking to TechCentral at the Telecom World event of the International Telecommunication Union, provides an update on whether South Africa will meet its new, self-imposed deadline to complete the project and what government is doing to fast-track its implementation.
In the podcast, the minister also talks about the future of public broadcasting, the revenue model for the SABC and why new avenues are being explored to collect television licences - including the possibility of adding it to household rates and taxes.

Interview: OneCart founders Lynton Peters and Ariel Navarro

In this episode of the podcast, Duncan McLeod interviews OneCart founders Lynton Peters and Ariel Navarro about their new online shopping venture.
OneCart is a technology start-up that allows customers to shop online from multiple retailers at the same time, including Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Dis-chem and Clicks, with orders delivered within two hours (or at a preferred delivery time).
The company already operates in Johannesburg, Pretoria East and parts of Cape Town, and has plans to launch in Durban later this year.
In the podcast, Peters and Navarro talk about their backgrounds, how the business got its start, how it's been funded and their plans to expand beyond groceries.
Don't miss the discussion!

Interview: Project Natick leader, Microsoft's Ben Cutler

In this episode of the podcast, Duncan McLeod interviews Ben Cutler, the head of Microsoft’s Project Natick, a research project to determine the feasibility of building subsea data centres.
Cutler and a team from Microsoft have deployed a subsea data centre in the north of Scotland, which they are using to ascertain whether building submarine data centres makes practical and financial sense.
In the podcast, Cutler explains where the idea came from, the two phases of the project so far, what Microsoft has learnt and where the project is going.
The Scottish test facility is powered entirely by renewable energy and the idea is that future sites could tap into energy harvested from the waves.
Cutler explains the costs involved, what the test facility is being used for and the mechanics involved in deploying computing resources.
Don’t miss this fascinating discussion!

Interview: Dimension Data MEA CEO Grant Bodley

In this episode of the podcast, Duncan McLeod interviews Grant Bodley, CEO of Dimension Data in the Middle East and Africa.
Bodley talks about how Dimension Data is doing in the region, how it’s weathering the tough economic environment and where the opportunities lie in the local IT services sector.
The CEO, who took the reins three years ago from Derek Wilcocks, discusses the IT outsourcing market, the demands that corporate clients are putting on IT service providers and where the industry is headed.
He also talks about the opportunities in the broader Africa and Middle East, and which markets are showing greatest promise.
Bodley then turns to Dimension Data’s black economic empowerment strategy following the company’s ugly fallout with its previous chairman, Andile Ngcaba.
Lastly, he discusses Dimension Data’s portfolio businesses, including Internet Solutions, Britehouse and Merchants, and how they fit into the group strategically.
Don’t miss the interview!

Interview: Adapt IT CEO Sbu Shabalala

In this episode of the podcast, Duncan McLeod interviews Sbu Shabalala, CEO of the fast-growing JSE-listed software specialist Adapt IT.
Shabalala talks about his upbringing in KwaZulu-Natal, his education and how he first got involved in the IT sector – and in business.
He discusses why he founded Adapt IT, its listing on the JSE and its rapid growth over the past 14 years.
In the podcast, Shabalala talks about the group’s strategy, including its plans to expand internationally. He explains the group’s acquisition strategy, and why it sees East and West Africa as big growth opportunities.
The discussion touches on the weak state of the South African economy and what that means for the IT sector, why he thinks Adapt IT’s shares are undervalued and the group’s plan to buy back its own shares, and where he sees the group going over the next five to 10 years.
Don’t miss it!

Interview: SwitchTel CEO Greg Massel on ‘perverse’ Icasa regs

Icasa has not thought through its proposed new call termination rate regulations and their impact on the industry if they’re implemented without significant changes will harm the industry and lead to higher prices for consumers.
That’s the view of Switch Telecom CEO Gregory Massel, expressed in this episode of the TechCentral podcast. “The single biggest issue is that, either intentionally or unintentionally, they seem to steal from the poor and give to the rich,” he said. “It really could be devastating to a lot of the newer entrants to the market.”
It’s a great podcast about a very important issue. Don’t miss it!

Bob van Dijk and Larry Illg on Naspers's global investment strategy

In this episode of the podcast, Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk returns to the show, this time with Naspers Ventures CEO Larry Illg, to talk about the group's global technology investments and strategies.

Van Dijk, who spoke on the podcast last week with letgo co-founder Alec Oxenford, talks about Naspers's investment philosophy, the sort of businesses it's looking to invest in and whether he thinks the group could strike gold again like it did when it invested in China's Tencent.

Illg then talks about his background, why he joined Naspers and some of the investments that Naspers Ventures has been involved in.

Van Dijk and Illg offer their views on the Chinese, Indian and South African markets and the opportunities for Naspers in those countries.

And Van Dijk talks about Naspers's plans to (possibly) list some operations in other markets, in the process reducing its exposure to the JSE and further reducing the discount in the group's valuation relative to the value of its stake in Tencent.

Could Naspers list pay-television subsidiary MultiChoice separately as part of this process? Van Dijk talks to this and more in the podcast. Don't miss it!

Interview: Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk and letgo co-founder Alec Oxenford

Naspers announced last week that it will invest a further US$500-million - about R7.2-billion - into US mobile classifieds platform letgo.
In this episode of the podcast, TechCentral editor Duncan McLeod interviews Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk and letgo co-founder Alex Oxenford about the investment.
Van Dijk explains why Naspers, through its subsidiary OLX, decided to invest in the fast-growing letgo, what the opportunities are for the business and the possibilities for letgo to work with other Naspers group businesses.
Oxenford then talks about the origins of letgo, its growth ambitions and why it's partnered with Naspers.
He also explains why letgo is focused, for now, on growing its US operation rather than expanding into international markets and the machine-learning and artificial intelligence technologies that underpin the platform.
It's a great discussion. Don't miss it!

Interview: Coindirect chief product officer Stephen Young

In this episode of the podcast, Duncan McLeod interviews Stephen Young, chief product officer at a new, Cape Town-based cryptocurrency exchange called Coindirect, which is focused on facilitating crypto trading in emerging markets, especially in Africa.
Young talks about the origins of Coindirect, what it offers and why it believes there is a largely untapped market in Africa for cryptocurrency trading.
In the podcast, he explains Coindirect's business model - including its fee structure - as well as how the company protects its customers' investments from a security perspective.
Young talks about why trading cryptos in many African markets is difficult, and how the company seeks to make it easier through its peer-to-peer market.
He also gives his views on where bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are going in the long-term, and which tokens he's invested in and why.
It's a great discussion. Don't miss it!

Interview: Liquid Telecom CEO Reshaad Sha

Reshaad Sha returns to the podcast in this episode to talk about his appointment as CEO of Liquid Telecom in South Africa.
Sha, who was previously with Dark Fibre Africa as chief strategy officer and CEO of DFA’s Internet of things subsidiary SqwidNet, joined Liquid Telecom two months ago.
In the podcast, he explains why he decided to take up the opportunity and sets out the challenges and opportunities facing the operator formerly known as Neotel.
Liquid Telecom South Africa, which has been through several big challenges in recent years (as Neotel), was originally created as the second national operator to compete with then-monopoly provider Telkom.
Sha talks about where the company is positioned in the market today, where he’s going to focus his efforts as CEO and why the operator's spectrum assets offer huge potential. In the podcast, he hints that a deal is in the works to unlock the potential of that spectrum.
He also explains how Liquid Telecom is positioning itself in cloud computing and data centre infrastructure and touches on the policy and regulatory landscape in telecommunications in South Africa.
It’s a great discussion. Don’t miss it!

171 episodes

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