PowerCom, the infrastructure arm of Telecom Namibia, was recently awarded a Class Network Facilities Telecommunications Service licence by the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN).
Windhoek Observer Business Reporter, Chamwe Kaira (CK), sat down with PowerCom’s Chief Executive Officer, Alisa Amupolo (AA), to discuss the awarding of this licence and the company’s future plans.
The company owns and leases 300 communication towers to telecommunication companies, radio stations, and the civil aviation authority and the police, among many others.
CK: What are the future plans of PowerCom given that CRAN has approved your Class Network Facilities Telecommunications Service licence?
AA: We are upbeat about the class network facilities licence, which gives us more credibility and equally more responsibility, to deliver to our clients optimally, in terms of quality and turnaround time.
Most importantly, it allows us to provide well-maintained infrastructure with a routine maintenance cycle and environmentally compliant towers that are safe for all our clients, enabling them to yield maximum returns in terms of location. This infrastructure also addresses service gaps.
PowerCom endeavours to become a fully-fledged Tower Communications Company providing for all infrastructure needs in the market under a consolidated asset portfolio, including those under third-party ownership and new infrastructures yet to be constructed.
This goal gives impetus to the business becoming a fully-fledged infrastructure company in five years’ time, integrating all other shared ICT infrastructure in the market.
For example, there are server rooms shared by all telecom operators which are floating around and it is an opportune moment to get them on board. All the above will require a robust workforce with unique skills sets that are fit-for-purpose in order to offer cutting-edge infrastructure solutions to our diverse clientele portfolio.
CK: How is PowerCom faring on the market?
AA: The industry is growing at a fast pace, with many new licences being awarded by CRAN in all categories and this essentially translates into new business opportunities for PowerCom.
Apart from our shareholder, Telecom, nearly every licensed player that exists in the market - MTC, Paratus, MTN, WITEL and nbc - constitute our clientele portfolio, and hence, the more the industry grows, the more value PowerCom can add to all telecommunication companies, broadcasters and any entity finding itself requiring communication transmission (infrastructure) for its own use or to service its clients.
CK: You have 300 towers, how will the new infrastructure sharing law affect or help you?
AA: The regulations regarding infrastructure sharing gazetted by CRAN on 4 October 2016, pushes business in PowerCom’s direction. This means that no new operators will be allowed to build additional infrastructure before existing facilities and capacity are optimally utilised.
A PowerCom tower has capability to accommodate up to four tenants at a time or even more. Hence, PowerCom should be the first point of arrival before industry players can construct new towers. So far, we have recorded a significant inflow in terms of service application volumes. This has led to exponential revenue growth. The new infrastructure sharing regulations discourage the duplication of infrastructure.
CK: Do you have plans for voice services?
AA: PowerCom’s business objective as it stands is ICT infrastructure and equipment provider, and we are building credibility on our craft.
We exited the voice services in 2013 when we sold our mobile equipment (from Cell one and Leo’s era) to our shareholder Telecom Namibia. The mobile business has since been fully integrated in Telecom Namibia’s operation, which today is known as TN mobile.
The shareholder principle at the onset was that the two entities should not be in competition with each other and if that changes in the medium to long term, we will consider it at the appropriate time.
CK: How much do you plan to invest on expansion this year?
AA: PowerCom builds infrastructure on clients’ demand. Our financial year is coming to an end in September and we look forward to commencing a new financial year with vigour and we will certainly invest in both our new and existing infrastructures.
CK: Do you having anything else to add?
AA: We would like to thank all our stakeholders, including our diverse landowners countrywide, who host our 300 towers. They remain significant value-adding partners in our ecosystem.
PowerCom invites all existing and new players in the market requiring ICT infrastructure, particularly telecommunications towers, to continue using our services, and if requiring new tower sites, to approach our office, so that we can construct those network facilities for them from our capital expenditure capacity. We build on demand.
We endeavour for a 30-day turnaround time to accommodate new clients using existing infrastructure, therefore, none of our clients should feel the necessity to build a new tower and duplicate infrastructure. We are able to get environmental clearance in a quick manner. This clearance normally derails new infrastructure projects, therefore, we can also deliver on clients’ new infrastructure demands within a desirable timeline.