Today Pan-African infrastructure group, Liquid Telecoms, announced an increase in its existing investment in the Zambian market with the acquisition of an Internet Service Provider called Realtime.
This move comes on the heels of another strategic play for the retail consumer market that CEC Liquid Telecom (that’s the name of its Zambian outfit) made a few months ago through an arrangement to work with different Zambian ISPs in rolling out its Fibre to the Home service, Fibroniks, that we’ve seen in Zimbabwe courtesy of another Liquid subsidiary, ZOL Zimbabwe.
If this approach being taken by Liquid here conjures up a feeling of déjà vu, it’s because it’s what we saw here in Zimbabwe back in 2012. The wholesaler carrier snapped up an independent ISP, ZOL, and has been working through this unit to make Fibre internet accessible to the retail market. ZOL was chosen because it was the perfect fit for Liquid.
In the case of Zambia’s Realtime, the deal was influenced by the same desire really. But why Realtime? Realtime’s has carved out a market focused on Private Network License holders. These aren’t home consumers, but instead enterprise customers that include corporates and industrial entities. This acquisition by CEC Liquid brings Realtime into the FTTH market.
So if Liquid is now dropping the ISPs -as-merchants approach, what made Realtime the best bet? There are after all, two other aggressive players in Zambian Internet, iConnect and Zamtel, that have a stronger appetite for consumer market internet.
Perhaps part of Realtime’s appeal was the fact that CEC already owned 50% of Realtime. This brings Realtime into the fold perfectly.