By Ntombi Mhlongo
Eswatini-founded Inyatsi Group Holdings is making significant inroads throughout the African continent with investments and projects worth E3.7 billion currently being rolled out in West, Eastern, and Southern Africa.
The Group’s expansion throughout the continent is part of its vision of becoming Africa’s Leading Integrated Business Partner. The expansion cuts across all spectrums of the business world. The latest is a more than E2.5 billion investment in Zambia’s fourth mobile operator, Zedmobile.
The huge financial undertaking will spur the republic’s economic growth and further cut down its unemployment rate to below 13 per cent. Inyatsi Group Holdings is not new in the mobile telecommunications space as one of its proprietors, Michelo Shakantu was the brains behind the establishment of Eswatini Mobile, the Kingdom’s first mobile operator wholly owned by emaSwati.
For setting up Eswatini Mobile, Shakantu told Eswatini Financial Times that they (he and his late business partner Victor Gamedze) needed about E1.2 billion capital injection. Based on that, the investment for Zedmobile will be significantly higher, given that the Zambian project will include the setting up of network infrastructure that will offer 5G/4G/3G/2G, data services and mobile voice services. It’s a continuation of the diversification and turning Eswatini into an export-oriented economy. It is Eswatini’s skills that have made these investments and projects possible, said the Inyatsi Executive Chairman Michelo Shakantu.
With the Zedmobile investment, Inyatsi will impact over 7 000 livelihoods through direct and indirect employment. Zedmobile proprietors announced that over 1 000 job opportunities would be availed (500 direct and 500 indirect).
Over and above this positive economic impact, small and large-scale suppliers in the mobile telecommunication value chain will also benefit from this project. The group prides itself on being an employer of choice and significantly impacting the lives of the people where it operates.
In Eswatini, Inyatsi Group Holdings is directly employing 3 227 which translates to 22 589 livelihoods dependent on the company when using the country’s dependency ratio of 1:7. With the setting up of Zedmobile, Inyatsi Group Holdings would soon be supporting over 29 500 in two African economies through its investee companies.
In addition to the positive impact the company is having through its greenfield investments, it is also aggressively invigorating other African economies through the construction projects it is currently undertaking.
Through its multinational Inyatsi Construction, the company is operating in nine other African countries. Inyatsi Construction continues to fly Eswatini’s flag high by scoring multi-million projects across the continent in line with its vision of becoming Africa’s Leading Integrated Business Partner.
In 2022, Inyatsi Construction clinched several construction deals in Malawi, Mozambique, and Uganda. Inyatsi Construction scored an E288 million Mozambican job and went on to win another project to build a laboratory facility in Malawi. This multi-million Emalangeni project was signed with the National Oil Company of Malawi. The Malawi project includes the construction of a laboratory, cafeteria and change room at Mzuzu deport on the outskirts of Lilongwe, the capital city.
Before that, Inyatsi Construction was awarded jobs in Mozambique, Zambia, Uganda and Ivory Coast creating over 1 000 jobs in Southern, Eastern and West Africa. In the Mozambique project, the company has teamed up with Trans African Concessions (TRAC) in the upgrade of the N4 MDC Section17: Tchumene Interchange to Matola, which links South Africa and Mozambique.
In the Kingdom, Inyatsi has among many projects completed the state-of-the-art Mbadlane to Manzini Blue Highway. It is currently working on the Sicunusa/Nhlangano road to name a few.
Inyatsi Construction, which celebrated 40 years of existence last year, continues to perform an unofficial but indisputable ambassadorial role on the continent as a respected Swazi-owned construction company that has been entrusted with delivering high capital projects beyond the borders of the Kingdom.
Across the continent, Inyatsi Construction has built and solidified its reputation for executing projects that have positively impacted economies and societies. Inyatsi Group’s Commercial Director Gcina Matsebula told the Eswatini Financial Times that the expansion is aligned with Inyatsi Group’s vision of being Africa’s integrated business partner.
Matsebula cited an earth dam construction project in Uganda that is ongoing as part of the expansion. The project, he said, is worth E500 million and its duration is two and a half years.
“We are also looking at getting more work in Malawi which will add to the one that we were recently awarded. We are continually looking for opportunities to increase stakeholder value and our dream is to look beyond Africa,” Matsebula said.
Zedmobile aims to have 82% network coverage by December
Zedmobile has set a target to deploy the network in all regions and cover 82 per cent of the Zambian population by December 31 this year. This assurance was given by Zedmobile Director Sydney Sichula during the launch of the company.
“Zedmobile has evolved from our desire that Zambians deserve the best network. We are also driven by the belief and confidence that Zambians can own and operate a world-class mobile telecommunications company on their own. As the fourth mobile network operator, we are committed to contributing positively to the development and evolution of information communication and technology (ICT) infrastructure and services in Zambia,” he said.
“We acknowledge the existing industry players and congratulate them for their wonderful work to date as it has promoted the much-needed competition. In all industries, competition is necessary because it pushes industry players to offer the best in terms of services to customers.”
He mentioned that Zedmobile management was cognisant of the fact that it is expected to be a curator and provider of quality, cutting-edge service and job opportunities for qualified Zambians.
“In accordance with our licence conditions, we will deploy the Zedmobile network in all regions of Zambia and cover 82 per cent of the population by the 31st of December 2023,” he emphasized.
The Zedmobile network rollout will be in three phases: the first call is scheduled for June 2023 as part of phase one, which is expected to be completed by August 2023; Phase two will be completed by October 2023; and phase three will be done by December 2023.
With Huawei as the network infrastructure provider, Zedmobile has already committed itself to ensure that it becomes number one in mobile data and voice across Zambia by providing an affordable and reliable future-proof 5G network from the first day of operation.
Following the launch, it is expected that the coming months will witness the launching of experience centres where customers can walk in and start to interact with Zedmobile to understand what the new operator is here for.
Meanwhile, Zambia’s Minister of Science and Technology Felix Mutati said the government awarded Beeline Telecoms Limited the telecommunications licence in March 2020 through a transparent process spearheaded by Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA).
He said this will not only encourage local investment but also contribute to the Zambia government’s plans for national domestic growth.
“Through this investment, there will be global partnerships interested to partner with the government and Beeline Telecoms in the delivery of key technology but also a transfer of skills in the local Zambians thereby closing the skills gap between local Zambian talent and that of the international environment,” the minister said.
Mutati said the government of President Hichilema promised the creation of jobs to the Zambian people and, therefore, he was at the launch to proudly announce that the coming of Zedmobile would ensure that its business objectives will not only align with those of the Zambian government in contributing to sustainable development but also create 500 direct and decent jobs, coupled with another 500 indirect jobs.
He said the mandate given to Zedmobile is to close the digital divide with a nationwide, affordable and reliable service to all communities of Zambia; drive efficient and effective mobile data a d voice across Zambia; to roll out its network infrastructure countrywide that will enable an end to end ecosystem; to offer effective and efficient customer service; to foster robust quality of service of the mobile telecommunications network; and to roll out a network that will support digital financial solutions for financial inclusion.
“This is in the government’s quest to become a prosperous middle-income nation by Vision 2030; to increase the socio-economy standards which require reliable digital Infrastructure; and to fuel innovation, competitive pricing, and nationwide coverage,” said the minister.