Dartcom Fibre Solutions has launched a new fibre factory near Mamelodi in Pretoria that, at peak, will produce about 12 000km of fibre-optic cabling a year.
The company, which is controlled by New GX Capital, an investment group focused on energy and telecommunications and founded by Dartcom chairman Khudu Pitje, opened the facility on Tuesday.
At peak, it will employ as many as 100 people per shift across three shifts per day.
Dartcom is a solutions provider for telecoms infrastructure, providing everything from dark fibre to manholes and backup batteries. It distributes products from its offices in Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban, while also serving other markets in Southern Africa, including Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi and Angola.
Pitje said in a podcast interview ahead of Tuesday’s factory launch that the facility is being constructed in partnership with OFS, part of the Furukawa Electric Company. The products will be produced under licence from OFS.
“Our relationship with OFS comes from 10 years ago when we started distributing their products in the South African market,” Pitje said. “We have now grown those products to sustain a local production facility.”
The factory is located on the outskirts of Mamelodi, a sprawling township near Pretoria, where Pitje’s father, Hezekiel Mothibe Pitje, was the first mayor. Pitje said Mamelodi is close to his family’s heart, and he wanted to build a facility that would create employment opportunities in hi-tech for residents of the township. The factory is 78% black owned.
“At least 90% of the people who work there will come from Mamelodi and Eersterus. We have plans to expand or double the capacity in about 18 months if the fundamentals of the telecoms sector stay in place. We believe we have a world-beating product that can serve the African market,” he said.
He said there are still enormous opportunities to address pent-up demand for data in South Africa and the broader region. “If you look at the population size and requirement for data, the continent is far from reaching its peak.”
Investment in the factory is from a mix of equity from existing shareholders and a senior debt facility provided by First National Bank. FNB, Pitje said, has been “very supportive of New GX as a group and especially Dartcom”. – © 2017 NewsCentral Media
- Listen to the podcast interview with Khudu Pitje