Understanding Avanti’s Plan for Improved Satellite Connectivity in Africa

Reuben Oshomah, Avanti’s Regional Director in West Africa

Avanti Communications recently announced that it had invested over USD 800 million in Africa to establish the region as its primary revenue source within the next three years. This commitment is evident through Avanti’s expanding presence across the continent, showcasing its growing footprint and dedication to serving African markets.

On April 27, 2022, Avanti inaugurated its flagship office in Lagos, Nigeria. The office is in the prestigious Heritage Place, a 14-storey environmentally certified commercial building. Situated in Ikoyi, a renowned commercial district that hosts global tech giants like Oracle and Google, the office is part of a world-class development. This strategic location positions Avanti in a hub of innovation and enables closer collaboration with key industry players.

The Lagos office marks Avanti’s third office in Africa, following the successful establishment of offices in Kenya and South Africa. These three offices collectively employ over a fifth of the company’s workforce, emphasising the company’s commitment to building a solid presence in the region.

This significant investment reinforces Avanti’s recognition of Africa’s immense potential and commitment to the continent. By strategically positioning itself in key African markets and fostering collaboration with industry leaders, Avanti is well-positioned to drive growth, deliver innovative solutions and make Africa its primary revenue source.

Space in Africa chatted with Reuben Oshomah, Avanti’s Regional Director in West Africa, to understand Avanti’s services, initiatives, and plans for Africa.

How does Avanti Communications plan to leverage its new flagship office in Lagos, Nigeria, as a hub for employees across the continent, and what benefits does this bring to the company’s operations and service delivery in Africa?

The office space is designed with a focus on collaboration and productivity. It features different areas that cater to various work needs, such as open workstations for individual tasks, meeting rooms for team discussions, and cosy corners for informal gatherings or brainstorming sessions. In addition, the layout is optimised to encourage interaction and exchange of ideas among employees.

The design of the office reflects a modern and welcoming atmosphere. It incorporates natural lighting, comfortable furniture, and aesthetically pleasing decor to create a pleasant and motivating environment. It is well-maintained, clean, and organised, allowing employees to feel comfortable and inspired throughout the workday. The office is also strategically located near most of our customers, making it convenient for them to visit. This proximity enhances communication and strengthens the relationship between Avanti and our customers. 

The office serves as the perfect hub for customer engagement and support. Customer support managers are available to address inquiries and provide assistance promptly. They can also arrange face-to-face meetings with customers at the office, fostering stronger connections and understanding of their business needs. 

With our new office, we can now conduct an end-to-end business life cycle, starting from initial contact or inquiry and concluding with the delivery or fulfilment of the product or service, all from our location in Nigeria. 

Please provide an overview of Avanti Communications’ current satellite connectivity solutions in Africa and how they contribute to addressing the region’s connectivity challenges.

Our significant investment in Africa has been driven by our firm belief in the region and its potential for improved connectivity using satellite communication technologies. We have made remarkable progress in expanding our coverage across Africa, reaching an impressive 70% of the region. Our continuous efforts to deploy our latest Gateway Earth Station in Senegal will significantly increase our coverage across the continent.

We also actively engage with countries beyond Nigeria, such as Cameroon, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Niger, where we have ongoing discussions and collaborations. The relationships we have built and the trust we have gained from these countries are a testament to the quality and strength of our products and unparalleled Ka-band high throughput satellite services.

While progress varies across different countries, we are making significant headway in the region. We are already well-positioned as a leading supplier in the market and have a clear vision of becoming the preferred supplier for the entire region. With the momentum we have gained and the plans we have put in place, there is no doubt that we are on the right path to achieving our objectives. 

In the next five years, our objective is to establish connectivity for 10,000 schools and villages, and we are already making substantial strides towards achieving this goal. To date, we have already connected more than 1,000 villages and schools.

Our product portfolio encompasses four distinct categories that cater to diverse needs. Firstly, we offer satellite backhauling services to fixed and mobile network operators. These services enable efficient data transmission and business connectivity, especially in rural and remote areas, ensuring seamless communication and operational efficiency.

Secondly, we specialise in security and defence solutions. This entails leveraging our expertise to monitor borders and assist governments in addressing internal conflicts. By providing advanced security systems and technologies, we contribute to maintaining stability and safeguarding national interests.

Another area we excel is mobility services. We possess the capacity to provide internet connectivity for some of the largest cruise ships in the world. Recognising the growing demand for reliable internet access during voyages, we are dedicated to meeting the connectivity needs of the cruise industry. In addition, we specialise in offering services to satellite operators and integrators, enabling them to extend their services to areas where they currently lack coverage. This partnership allows operators to provide seamless connectivity to their customers in previously underserved regions.

The latest launch of our HYLAS 4 satellite gateway station in Dakar with a state-of-the-art Ka-band antenna symbolises a significant milestone for our company. With this accomplishment, we are poised to provide exceptional broadband support, enabling efficient backhaul and delivering extensive connectivity for telecoms and the government.

This gateway aligns perfectly with our commitment to supporting the Digital 2025 initiative. By investing in this satellite gateway station, we actively contribute to the growth and development of Senegal and its neighbouring regions. Our efforts include providing much-needed investment to promote skills development and delivering vital connectivity services to drive progress and innovation.

We are genuinely excited about the opportunities to impact the telecommunications landscape across Africa positively. Overall, our investment in Africa demonstrates our commitment to the region and our confidence in its potential for growth. We are dedicated to realising our goals and becoming a trusted and preferred partner for businesses across the entire region.

Could you provide more information about the specific strategies and expansion plans your company is currently implementing, particularly regarding entering new African markets? I understand you mentioned a few countries earlier, but I’m interested in learning about any specific targets or strategies you can share.

We are a customer-centric business which places great emphasis on providing a bespoke solution to customers and ensuring their satisfaction. Through this approach, we engage with them at various levels to better understand their needs and provide excellent service, which has been instrumental in our growth and success thus far.

Expanding into African markets requires careful consideration and analysis. We have developed comprehensive selection criteria, categorising countries based on market viability, capacity, and appetite for our satellite services. In addition, we consider factors like infrastructure, budget availability, and the government’s push for development in the telecommunications sector. Through this strategic mapping process, we have identified specific countries where we will concentrate our expansion efforts.

It is essential to recognise that Africa presents unique challenges due to its vast size and diverse landscapes. As a result, we tailor our strategies to specific regions or countries, considering their characteristics and requirements. We are committed to pursuing growth opportunities in African markets while ensuring we deliver the services that meet the needs and expectations of our customers in those regions.

What strategies do you employ to navigate the complexities of entering new markets in the satellite communication industry?

Every country has unique space and licensing policies in the satellite communication industry, which can vary significantly from coast to coast, making it essential to understand the specific regulatory requirements in each market. To navigate these complexities effectively, businesses often adopt a collaborative approach rather than working in isolation.

When entering new markets, one common strategy is establishing partnerships with local entities that deeply understand the country’s regulatory frameworks and market dynamics. By leveraging the expertise and insights of these partners, we gain valuable knowledge about the intricacies of the regulatory environment, ensuring compliance and minimising the risk of encountering regulatory issues.

For instance, in the case of Nigeria, we work with individuals or organisations well-versed in the local market. We partner with local entities who understand the country’s unique regulatory landscape and can provide valuable guidance to navigate the challenges effectively.

This approach is not limited to a specific region but applies to the broader context of conducting business across Africa. The continent presents its challenges and opportunities, facilitating the development of a robust network to navigate the diverse and sometimes challenging terrain. A strong network of reliable contacts enables businesses to tap into local knowledge, establish key partnerships, and effectively address the intricacies of operating within different African markets.

What specific initiatives or partnerships has Avanti undertaken to support local communities and businesses in Africa to enhance their access to reliable and affordable internet connectivity?

We are actively involved in several corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. One of our notable projects is in Kenya, where we have partnered with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) on the Girls’ Education Awareness Programme (GEAP). This initiative uses social marketing to drive awareness and behaviour change, breaking down the barriers to girls’ education. We are excited about the impact of this project and are committed to expanding it to other countries where such efforts are needed.

Promoting girls’ education is a cause of utmost importance. We recognise that girls and young women often face marginalisation and other educational barriers. We must focus on empowering girls and enabling them to reach their full potential. 

We prioritise expanding this initiative to other countries, including Ghana and Nigeria. We understand the importance of supporting education and empowerment initiatives beyond borders. By leveraging our resources and expertise, we aim to create a positive and lasting impact on the lives of individuals in these communities.

Our commitment to girls’ education and empowerment is deeply ingrained in our company’s values. We are actively involved in developing and implementing projects that address the barriers hindering girls’ education and help them realise their full potential. Through our presence in this space, we strive to make a meaningful difference by combating the digital divide and enabling individuals and communities worldwide to thrive. 

Is there a timeline for integrating this initiative in other African countries?

As part of our goal to connect 10,000 schools and villages within the next five years, we are exploring further opportunities to integrate CSR initiatives elsewhere. Debbie Mavis, our Group HR Director, is leading the charge for change as we explore more opportunities to deliver life-changing connectivity to young people living in rural and ultra-rural areas that provide greater access to education. I look forward to seeing what the future holds. 


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