In Conversation:Sefalana Mophuting (Head of Sales) & Diploma Mokgwathi (Chief Engineer) From Liquid Intelligent Technologies

At the recently held Gaborone Consumer Electronics & Technology Show, BW TechZone caught up with Liquid Intelligent Technologies' Sefalana Mophuting and Diploma Mokgwathi to learn more about the pan-African ICT service provider's operations in Botswana.

Could you start by giving me an overview of your company and what you guys specialize in?

Mophuting: We are Liquid Intelligent Technologies. I’m the head of sales and this [gesturing to Mokgwathi] is our Chief Engineer. What we do is a whole portfolio of ICT services. We rebranded 2 or 3 years back, as we wanted to position ourselves as a one-stop shop for all ICT solutions. We do things like internet connections and VSAT connections; everything that brings connectivity closer to you is what we specialize in. We’ve also got a range of Microsoft products, and cloud and cybersecurity services. Right now, we’re servicing enterprise customers like banks and finance industries, and wholesale customers like mobile network operators (MNOs), and internet service providers (ISPs).

You guys are an ISP yourselves?

Mophuting: We are an ISP, but we also provide wholesale services to ISPs.

How would you say your products benefit the average consumer?

Mophuting: Our mission is to ensure that we leave no Motswana behind. We want to bring internet connectivity closer to the people. In doing that, we are trying to provide a full bouquet of quality services that are going to benefit you as you are conducting your businesses, whether you want to optimize your network or give other end solutions to customers.

Do you guys have any new product releases or innovations that you’re excited about that you’re ready to introduce to the public?

Mophuting: Yes, we’ve got a lot that’s been going on. We just recently launched our Metro Ring that we’ve built along the main business areas in Gaborone. We’re really excited about that because it’s going to bring connectivity services closer to the people, and closer to enterprises for you to be able to do your business.

What sets you apart from the competition in the market?

Mokgwathi: Liquid is pan-African. Our footprint is in more than 20 countries in Africa. So, in terms of what we call latency, and speed of the network, it is quite fast because we have back-to-back connections with content providers. That’s one benefit you would get. Also, because of that, in terms of economies of scale, we are able to give value for money.

Mophuting: And like he’s mentioned, we are part of a pan-African company, so we can leverage from the group expertise that we have to make sure that what we’re giving to the end customer is world-class.

Mokgwathi: Another thing; in terms of cloud, Liquid is a gold partner for Microsoft. That’s a big thing. We are a preferred provider for cloud solutions for Microsoft and because of our infrastructure and wide footprint in Africa, you’ll find that Microsoft it actually co-located with us in our data centre in Midrand. This is what we mean when we say Liquid is back-to-back connected with content providers. We don’t have to take 3 hops before reaching Microsoft, we are connected to Microsoft. Thus, the quality of your experience will be much better with Liquid.

Another thing is that if you look at the submarine cables, because internet goes to the likes of Europe and the Americas. Liquid has got what we call redundancy because we’re using about 5 cables on the east coast and 6 cables on the west coast. So, if there’s a cable cut undersea, Liquid is not affected. And anyone who is affected would have to come to us to rescue them.

Mophuting: I think that speaks to the up times that we’ve had. There have been some down times, and some outages experienced by key players in the market. But the message we’re really trying to bring out is that because of the investments that we’ve made in the undersea cables that Mokgwathi was just talking about, we didn’t experience any downtimes at a point when everybody else was down.

What would you say is your company’s vision for the future in your industry?

Mokgwathi: Similar to when Mophuting was speaking on leaving no Motswana behind, our vision is a digitally connected future that leaves no Motswana behind. We think that is self-explanatory.

Can you tell us about any community or social initiatives that your company is involved in?

Mokgwathi: Yeah, there’s quite a few. Wherever we implement our infrastructure, we try to leave a positive mark on the community. We have infrastructure on the route to Lobatse. In Otse, there’s a community known as Camphill, for people living with disabilities. We dropped connectivity there and provided them with internet and Wi-Fi reticulation. We have many other initiatives that we are working on. We cannot share the details of them just yet until certain agreements have been finalized.

Mophuting: We’ve also done fibre installation training for 400 youths. We took a whole month training youths who are going out and setting up their own companies, or being employed by some companies that are in the business of fibre installation. Also, just last week, we did training for some students from Ramotswa Secondary School. It was a 2-day training session for their new SRC.

Mokgwathi: Another big one is Dare to Dream. That’s a youth centre. The internet that they use in Botswana Innovation Hub is sponsored by Liquid. We’ve been doing that for the last 3 or 4 years now, and we have no intentions of stopping.

Are there any success stories that you’d like to share?

Mophuting: We’ve got many success stories. We’ve been doing a lot in terms of giving back, like we’ve mentioned. We built our Metro, covering the major business district areas. We built the backbone from Gaborone to Lobatse, like Mokgwathi mentioned, and on top of that, we’re now rolling out phase 2 of our Metro starting next month. We should be finished sometime in February. That just shows our commitment to growing our network and our mission to empower Batswana, giving back to the community and ensuring that we are providing an experience with good quality network, resilience, and the redundancy services that we’re giving to the end customer.

Mokgwathi: We should note, the big thing about the Lobatse project is that we were the first to cross the border. That’s not just a success for us, but a success for the country. We provided an extra route for internet traffic from Botswana, in terms of internet failover. Because we do need multiple routes outside of the country. If there’s something happening in a certain province in South Africa, you’re still covered. If something goes wrong undersea, you’re still covered. So, that was a big breakthrough.

We’re not just another company doing the same thing as everyone else, we’re addressing the problems that Batswana have with internet connections. We bring speed and reliability. We also know that there is a cry about pricing, and although we’re not really in the market for retail just yet, we’re trying to work with our partners to make it affordable for them, and ultimately, for the end customer as well.

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