Vodacom gets fibre boost as regulator approves transfer of DFA licences

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s Vodacom moved a step closer to a considerable expansion of its fibre footprint after the country’s telecoms regulator approved the transfer of Dark Fibre Africa’s licences to the mobile operator.

Vodacom said last November it would pay 6 billion rand ($337.5 million) in cash and certain fibre assets valued at 4.2 billion rand for a 30% stake in a newly formed company called MAZIV, which holds Community Investment Ventures Holdings’ (CIVH) Vumatel and Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) fibre assets.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) said on Wednesday it had approved the transfer of ownership of DFA’s service licences to MAZIV and the transfer of control of the licences to Vodacom effective from Dec. 1.

“We view the transaction as unlikely to negatively impact the market while making the transferee an effective player in the market. Additionally, the Authority views the proposed transaction to be in the best interest of the public,” said ICASA’s Councillor Luthando Mkumatela.

The approval is subject to the imposition of special licence conditions, the regulator added, while the deal remains subject to Competition Commision approval.

If approved, Vodacom will also transfer its fibre assets to MAZIV.

The deal gives South Africa’s largest mobile operator exposure to the country’s biggest open access fibre players. Vumatel’s footprint passes more than 1.2 million homes, covering over 31,000 kilometres across the country.

DFA is a leading provider of carrier-grade dark fibre – unused optical fibre – specialising in building, installing, and operating a national metro fibre network spanning 13,000 kilometres.

($1 = 17.7794 rand)

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)