Investors rescue Sigfox IoT network in South Africa

CIVH CEO Raymond Ndlovu

Major companies in South Africa, including Discovery and Fidelity ADT, have banded together to save the Sigfox internet of things (IoT) network in South Africa.

This comes a year after Remgro’s CIVH effectively pulled the plug on Sigfox operator SqwidNet, citing weak customer demand. Founded seven years ago under CIVH subsidiary Dark Fibre Africa, the difficulties at SqwidNet came as a shock to its customers, including Discovery Insure and ADT, that had come to rely heavily on the nationwide Sigfox network.

CIVH CEO Raymond Ndlovu said in an interview with TechCentral at the time of the decision to shut down SqwidNet, which by then had been moved out of Dark Fibre Africa as a separate entity under CIVH, was because customer take-up had not been as strong as anticipated.

The Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns resulted in depressed commercial activity in the economy, which worsened the problems at SqwidNet. “It’s now even more difficult to get the kind of adoption rates and revenue levels required,” Ndlovu said at the time. Without strong customer buy-in, CIVH would not be able to keep the business – and the network – running, he warned.

Customer buy-in came through, though, and the Sigfox network has been saved. CIVH has remained a shareholder in the newly created Sigfox South Africa, along with investors Macrocomm, Discovery Insure, Fidelity ADT and Buffet Investments. The door is open to other potential investors, Ndlovu said on Thursday at a launch event in Sandton.

Sumeshin Naidoo has been appointed as chief commercial officer and will lead the new entity. Andrew Heuvel has been named chief technology officer, while Sean Laval is executive of network operations.

Ndlovu said the Sigfox network in South Africa could not be allowed to fail considering its importance to many corporate customers. “We completely understood the impact and importance this network had throughout the country.”

The network will continue to be operated on an open-access basis “for the interests of all the participants and the nation at large”.

“This will be a long-term and committed and viable platform for the future in South Africa,” Ndlovu added. “There is a minimum of one million connected devices committed to this network in the foreseeable future.”  — © 2022 NewsCentral Media