Telkom to join forces with AT&T

Marcia Klein

Marcia Klein

In a mutually beneficial strategic move, Telkom and global telecoms giant AT&T are planning to move jointly into Africa.

They have signed a memorandum of understanding which will facilitate AT&T's extension of its network into sub-Saharan Africa, and add fuel to Telkom's strategic intent - to grow a strong ICT footprint on the continent.

Telkom chief executive Reuben September said the move would allow Telkom to become a fully fledged pan-African operator.

While they have not announced any specific project, they have agreed to collaborate on the development, marketing and sale of AT&T products, on the joint development of interconnected global networks, and on a plan for a pan-African telecoms network.

They have agreed to:

l Directly connect the Telkom regional network and the AT&T global network,

l Deliver a wider geographic footprint of telecommunications services in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere,

l Enhance mobile service capabilities for corporate customers in sub-Saharan Africa,

l Extend global virtual private network services to support the requirements of customers.

The two companies said they would be able to provide multinational clients with all of their telecoms needs.

September said AT&T had chosen Telkom even though it had the opportunity to choose other partners because of its presence in numerous African countries (through M-Web Africa and Africa Online), its international connectivity and local market knowledge, among other things.

Ronald Spears, president and chief executive of AT&T Business Solutions, said AT&T was involved with Telkom as SBC, when it had a financial investment, but now the relationship had "much more strategic urgency to it".

He said AT&T clients were expanding into Africa and asking for telecommunications networks.

Today, more than 180 US companies have about 70000 employees on the continent. AT&T services 1800 global enterprises.