As one of South Africa’s leading fibre optic network operators, Link Africa is dedicated in its efforts to connect people throughout the country, create modern IT and communication infrastructure, and stimulate social and economic development.
Launched in 2011, and now with CEO Terence Moodley at its helm, the company continues to deliver on its mission to make high-speed ICT infrastructure available to all service providers so that it reaches businesses, homes, clinics, schools and community centres across the country.
Terence Moodley leads Link Africa through "an aggressive growth period"
With a 20-year entrepreneurial background in IT, Terence was quick to find his feet at Link Africa, starting out as CFO and rising to the position of CEO in 2013. “My business partners and I became involved with Link Africa when it was just a start-up. Playing to my strengths in financial management, I successfully led the company through an aggressive growth period,” says Terence.
Over this time, the company grew from 50 to 350 employees throughout South Africa’s three major metropolitan areas: Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg. “Our revenue doubled each year, and the size and length of our fibre optic network grew rapidly from 200 kilometres to 3,000 kilometres,” he says.
By utilising existing underground municipal services such as sewer and stormwater systems, the company’s approach using FOCUS™ technology – for which Link Africa has the exclusive South African rights – is non-disruptive and non-invasive.
Since entering the fibre optic market, Link Africa has lowered the price of communication in South Africa, created competition, and provided direct employment opportunities.
“We have employed hundreds of people directly. Most of our team are local and many are women, which is important in South Africa,” says Terence. “Through our employment of labour contractors, we have created approximately 45,000 indirect jobs and approximately R500 million [!approximately!] of direct foreign investment in South Africa.”
Link Africa aims to provide universal access for all
Link Africa transitioned through its start-up phase to become an open-access operator and Level 1 provider, making it a major competitor in the country. “It is both a technology and a construction company, making us unique in our competitiveness,” says Terence.
The company installs FOCUS in the previously underused network of underground sewers, stormwater drains and service ducts, allowing it to reach areas other fibre optic networks cannot. “Innovation is in our essence. We are pioneers through our use of trenchless technology,” says Terence. “We innovate by being nimble and responsive to market needs in terms of product development and service delivery, to enable self-service by our end customers.”
We innovate by being nimble and responsive to market needs.
With its goal of providing universal access for all, Link Africa plans to build fibre infrastructure to 2.5 million homes in six cities using this technology. “One of our key strategies has been to build core networks in the three major metropolitan areas of Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg. These networks are based on the requirements of our mobile customers and have enabled us to service clients across the country. We are also conducting several trials in Diepsloot and the surrounding towns, and we hope to make progress there soon,” says Terence.
Open communication, empowerment & decisiveness
It has, however, been a bumpy road to success for Link Africa. “Because the technology was new to the country, we were unsure of our right to use it in sewers and stormwater pipelines. We treaded water in court for three years before the Constitutional Court confirmed our right as a licence holder to deploy our cables under South Africa’s Electronic Communications Act. This process taught us great patience and proved to me that justice always prevails in the end.”
When the business took off, Terence struggled to find deep-pocketed equity partners with a long-term horizon in their returns. “We soon realised that we had to take control of our destiny, generate our own revenue, and stop relying on third parties,” he says.
“Choosing the right partner is crucial to success. We seek partnerships with like-minded entities that have the dual objective of building a sustainable business and at the same time transforming our society.”
In 2016, Link Africa teamed up with Vast – an open-access wi-fi provider with hotspots throughout the country – to take fibre to South Africa’s underprivileged communities. Completed in June 2017, the project has already improved the lives of township residents while enriching public spaces throughout the country.
“It all comes down to open communication, empowerment and decisiveness,” he says. “In everything we do, we are focused on our goal: to bring about the sustainable transformation of South Africa’s economy and society by making communication services accessible to all.”