Telkom and AT&T get engaged

Telkom and the United States company AT&T have announced the creation of a strategic partnership to explore ways to expand their telecommunications services through sub-Saharan Africa.

Reuben September, CEO of Telkom, and Ronald Spears, CEO of AT&T, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in an extravagant ceremony in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, on Thursday. In a room complete with a string quartet and elaborate place settings, and hosted by South African Broadcasting Corporation news reader Mahendra Ragunath, September spoke at length about Telkom’s strategy of growing its footprint across the African continent.

September said that through the partnership with AT&T, Telkom could ‘discover and cultivate new frontiers of growth”, and could fulfil their strategic imperative of becoming a fully-fledged pan-African operator.

September said the companies had agreed to begin work towards delivering a wider geographic footprint of telecommunications services enhancing mobile capabilities for customers in sub-Saharan Africa. They would also explore opportunities in hosting and professional services.

Spears said the main reason for entering into the agreement was that their ‘customers demand services in Africa as they move into the region”.

He added that ‘180 American companies have 1 000 offices and 70 000 employees on the [African] continent”.

Spears said the companies had been discussing the partnership for ten to twelve months prior to the signing.

The companies also plan on collaborating on marketing, sales and provisioning of services.

When asked about the cost implications, September said that no money had yet been spent ‘other than hotel and travel expenses”.

Reuben said that AT&T chose Telkom as a partner because of their ‘strong international connectivity”.

No details were provided on dates, costs or financial implications of the partnership, and no formal contracts have been signed.