Echo Service Provider expands its reach into 8 African countries following merger with Gondwana
Echo Press release
Today, Echo Service Provider (Echo) is pleased to announce the conclusion of a deal that will merge the ISP operations of Gondwana International Networks (GIN) across Africa with South African-based Echo. The combined entity will operate in nine markets with its own networks and leverage off the pan-regional reach of its more than 35 partner networks across the continent.
GIN is a pan-African service provider with interests in the telecommunications and ICT arenas. Its ISP roots can be traced back over 20 years to Africa’s first ISPs through its operating brands iWayAfrica and AfricaOnline. GIN is the majority shareholder in subsidiary operations in seven countries, namely Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, South Africa and Mauritius, and has a 49% ownership interest in both Zimbabwe and Namibia. With an established network as well as offnet parnerships in these countries, GIN currently services a large client base across the consumer, SME and corporate segments, leveraging multiple technology platforms including fibre, wireless and satellite.
Since its launch in 2010, Echo has proven that in the local market, clients are looking for a change from the traditional ISPs – they need a service provider who is flexible, cost-effective and agile. Operating as South Africa’s only truly independent ISP, Echo hosts its core infrastructure in the various Teraco data centres, thus providing clients with vendor-neutral services and aggregated connectivity across a wide range of carrier networks, cloud computing, content hosting, network security solutions and a full portfolio of managed services. This model allows Echo to partner with an array of the best local and international players to provide SLA-based services and innovative solutions to its clients.
In February 2018, Ethos Mid-Market Fund acquired a significant stake in Echo SA to gain exposure to the ICT market in Africa. Ethos is widely considered to be the most experienced and successful private equity team in South Africa. “Ethos seeks to leverage its understanding of the South African and sub-Saharan African markets to target companies and management teams best positioned to create value from the region’s unique growth dynamics. We are very excited to be a part of this deal,” says Tabane Matheolane, Principal at Ethos.
“This transaction has taken almost a year to conclude,” says Angus MacRobert, director and shareholder of Echo. “We are really excited about the opportunities this deal creates in adding additional value to Echo’s existing client base while growing our business through exposure to exciting domestic markets in Africa. The leadership at GIN are surrounded by an impressive team and we look forward to the contribution they will make to Echo.”
Jacques Rautenbach, Chief Executive Officer of Echo International, says, “The expanded geographic footprint means that our clients operating on the continent have the reassurance of our ability to execute and support their businesses on the ground across Africa. Additionally, we can provide commercial agreements that consider local currencies along with centralised planning, governance and service management. We can also leverage Echo’s product investments, group skills and consultative approach to design, which means clients in each country will have a much wider portfolio of services to choose from.”
Mathew Welthagen, Chief Executive Officer of GIN, says, “The merger with Echo is a natural fit with GIN given our complementary markets and service offerings. The timing is also aligned with GIN’s expansion phase of the business. Ethos has the financial strength to allow us to continue to invest in our business and strengthen our service offering to clients. The depth of skill, industry knowledge and telecoms experience within Echo will allow us to innovate and further advance our value proposition.”
“We have engaged with a tremendous number of clients and conducted research over the past 16 months that suggests clients are looking for vendors that are able to offer strategically integrated partnerships that not only provide products, but also consider the structural complexity of their businesses under a flexible agreement,” says Rautenbach. “The deal is still pending regulatory and other approvals before the integration of the entities can be completed, but I am confident that Echo International and GIN will combine to offer the market an alternative of substance on the continent.”
Echo Service Provider (Echo) is an independent integrator of advanced network and cloud computing services, offering an aggregation of ISP services to the South African market. Through a collaboration of multiple ISPs and vendors, we take an independent approach to sourcing, building and managing converged communication networks, allowing us to deliver solutions that are best of breed while remaining vendor neutral. Coupled with the aggregation of these best of breed services, our carrier neutral network adds significant value to our clients. Echo forms your single point of contact for your communication needs. From VPN to hosting services, internet connectivity, fibre connectivity, wireless to LTE connectivity, security and firewall services, and more. Interconnecting everyone, anywhere.
Gondwana International Networks (GIN) is a Pan-African communications service company with a portfolio of strategic telecommunications licences, trademarks and network infrastructure deployments through its main operating brands, AfricaOnline and iWayAfrica, that have 19 offices in nine African countries with a staff complement of 300 people. Together with its network of 35 distributor channel partners providing boots on the ground for support, installations and other services, GIN provides services in over 35 countries for fibre, wireless and satellite connectivity as well as managed IT services.