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Region: South Africa Investment date: 2020 Sector: Private Equity Exit date: Deal type: Buy and Build Status date: Current

Octotel is a leading fibre network operator in the Western Cape region of South Africa. Founded in 2016, its open access fibre network provides seamless fibre-optic broadband to over 80,000 customers and passes more than 257,000 homes and businesses.  Through this network, Octotel provides line rental services to Internet Service Providers on a fully vendor neutral basis allowing high speed data connectivity in homes and businesses across the region.

The Group also includes RSAWEB, a leading ISP in South Africa offering internet services, cloud services and mobile data management, operating nationally across several wholesale networks. RSAWEB also has its own 60-rack data centre in Cape Town.

Demand for high-speed connectivity in South Africa is growing rapidly, driven by the growth in data consumption from businesses and consumers. The current low penetration of fixed broadband connectivity in the country, coupled with the ongoing need to replace legacy copper infrastructure, has created a significant opportunity to invest behind a significant secular trend.

In the first year of Actis’ ownership, Octotel connected 25,000 new customers and passed a further 55,000 houses, ahead of plan; Piloted a low-cost model to expand the addressable market to lower income groups; Appointed a new Board Directors and created Sub-Committees to further improve management processes and installed a free 1000mbps fibre connection to over 110 schools, more than three times the number connected at the start of Actis’ ownership, providing internet access for over 50,000 students. As a result of Actis’ investment, Octotel is a high quality, high growth business with a strong market position in the Western Cape.

Digital infrastructure, including fibre-optic broadband, is now recognised by many as the fourth utility, and today is as fundamental to raising standards of living around the world as traditional utilities like water and electricity. Actis believes that investing in improved digital infrastructure not only leads to faster economic growth, but also helps meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”). According to the World Bank, high speed internet access is a powerful tool for the delivery of essential services including education and healthcare, offers greater opportunities for women’s empowerment and environmental sustainability, and contributes to higher levels of government transparency.

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