South African fixed-line operator Telkom is to acquire Sub-Saharan African ISP MWEB Africa for US$63 million, a move that strengthens recent reports Telkom has changed its mobile strategy in its home country. Its MWEB Africa acquisition – which includes a 75 percent stake in MWEB Namibia – will give Telkom access to satellite-based Internet access offerings currently focused on corporate customers. MWEB Africa is headquartered in Mauritius with operations in Namibia, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, an agency arrangement in Botswana, and distributors in 26 Sub-Saharan African countries.

Telkom CEO Reuben September said the transaction gives impetus to the company’s strategic aim of becoming a pan-African integrated service provider. “Expanding beyond the borders of South Africa provides Telkom with an opportunity to become less dependent on domestic revenue streams… the acquisition further reflects Telkom’s strategy of expanding and deepening its footprint in key markets across Sub-Saharan Africa.” Last week Telkom confirmed it is to divest its 50 percent stake in South Africa’s largest mobile operator Vodacom by selling 15 percent to current partner Vodafone for ZAR22.5 billion (US$2.3 billion). Telkom will distribute its remaining 35 percent stake in Vodacom to Telkom shareholders by way of an unbundling. Telkom’s CEO had previously spoken of his plans to expand its existing ‘fixed-wireless’ WCDMA offering in South Africa into a full mobile service once the Vodacom sale was complete. However, last week he told Reuters that Telkom does not now plan on launching its own mobile network in South Africa to compete with Vodacom, but is instead seeking a roaming agreement with an existing operator that would allow Telkom customers to make mobile phone calls by piggybacking on another company’s network.