By Duncan Mlanjira
Open Connect Limited (OCL), the country’s biggest supplier of fiber infrastructure, plans to build stronger investment partnership with neighbouring countries in order to eradicate connectivity cuts in the country.
Connectivity cuts in the country are rampant because of vandalism and other mishaps that take place through interconnectivity routes with neighbouring countries such as Mozambique and Zambia.
Briefing the media on Thursday, OCL’s Chief Executive Officer, Sandile Dhlomo said there is need to have a proper web of connectivity so that when one service is cut off from one neighbour, then it should seamlessly be switched on to another neighbouring platform.
Dhlomo said excellent technology infrastructure enables development and it is important for Malawi to be at par or even better with development that is taken place around its neighbours and the world.
This is certainly going to be of beneficial as connectivity cuts affects most service providers such banks (ATMs); mobile phone calls; internet; mobile money services as well as the energy sector through Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM).
On Wednesday and Thursday, two service providers, Airtel Malawi and ESCOM were affected by connectivity cuts that saw customers failing to access their most needed services.
Airtel sent an SMS on Wednesday afternoon apologizing for the intermittent internet connectivity due to a fiber outage on their Mozambique and Zambia routes, which was finally restored on Thursday afternoon.
ESCOM customers also had problems in buying prepaid electricity tokens due to a network failure, which sources also said culminated from fiber outage in Zambia.
Dhlomo said once the interconnection routes are strengthened, the switch to other neighboring countries should be automatic and in such a way that the customers does not even experience that there has been an outage.
He also said OCL is working with players across all sectors to enable technology transformation by rolling out multiple products in the quest to fulfil their mission of ‘Broadband Within Reach’.
“One of them is to set up a data storage centre, which will have high security systems that will be free from cyber crime and to be registered and recognised by the global technology governing bodies.
“If foreign investors are to be interested to come to Malawi, one of the services that can attract them is having this data storage centre — an important system in which the corporate companies can store their servers for retrieval if lost through their own systems.
“This will be the first of its kind in Malawi because most companies have their own data storage systems but can be prone to cyber crime and accidents such as fires,” Dhlomo said.
The system, set to be commissioned next year, is called Tier 3 Data Centre, also known as level three data center that centralizes an organisations shared IT operations and equipment for the purposes of storing, processing and disseminating data and applications.
Tiers or levels are ways of differentiating the requirements or capabilities of various data center types. Uptime is the most critical metric or element which the rating of the capabilities in the various levels.
Data center ratings are therefore classified in 4 levels ranging from one to 4 where tier one has got the least certified uptime level and 4 has got the highest certified uptime level.
OCL was born in 2016 when Malawi Telecommunication Limited (MTL) was unbundling its transmission assets and OCL inherited the fiber assets.
Over the years, OCL has tremendously grown with eight office branches across the country and has large footprints in 24 districts.
Amongst other investment partners OCL managed to attract over the years through its professional operations include Press Corporation, Old Mutual and NICO Holdings.
OCL is a wholesale telecommunication service provider and a leading neutral player in the telecommunication industry as it operates the biggest optic fibre infrastructure in Malawi that is supplied to wholesale clients such as banks, mobile service providers and others.