For the first time in recent history, small businesses and start-ups in Africa are challenging the status quo in the financial sector, competing with not just big banks but also big telecoms by providing customers with a much-needed alternative to the traditional services they are accustomed to. In Africa, Greydot Africa – a hybrid telecom operator is set to provide a next generation digital network service. The company has its head office based here in Botswana with operations in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Kenya and DRC. The company’s growth strategy will see it starting operations in other African countries – Nigeria, Gabon, Central African Republic (CAR), Congo Brazzaville and some other countries within the European Union.
With the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the start of 2021, the continent’s multinational companies have begun to position themselves to replicate the growing success of the Fintech sector by providing solutions for what is expected to be the largest free trade area globally.
Fort its part, Greydot Africa says its telecoms service offers an alternative that rivals the conventional offerings by the well-known GSM networks.
Instead of having terrestrial infrastructure in the form of cables, fibre, towers and expensive generators, Greydot Africa chairman – Chris Phaladze says the company’s infrastructure sits purely in the cloud.
“Our next generation technology will be propelled to global prominence by 2022 when SpaceX and its European competitors would have implemented their blanket cover of Internet over Africa and the rest of the world”, says Phaladze.
He adds that all terrestrial infrastructure that GSM networks rely on to provide their services will be rendered completely redundant beginning 2022.
Greydot Africa’s telecoms service offers amongst other things clear digital calls at a flat rate globally. The company’s network has global interconnection with Indian based Telecommunications giant, Tata Communications that allows it to deliver calls to any number, mobile or fixed to 170 countries worldwide and at a flat rate of 35t or 3 US cents a minute.
“The service can be built specific to a country. The node we have built for Botswana enables users to call each other on the platform, at a flat rate of 35t per minute. Packages between groups of users can be designed to make the usage of the service even more affordable”, explains Phaladze.
Already the company says it can set up companies and corporates with a switchboard system that would allow calls between departments, branches and individuals /employees /business partners on their mobile handsets, irrespective of where they are on the globe.
“Our service would reduce their phone bill spend by up to 70 percent”, says Phaladze.
The wallet – one of the services provided by the company is a super multipurpose virtual wallet that provides an unlimited way of conducting financial transactions. Through the wallet, Greydot Africa offers a third party payment processing in territories where the company does not have the requisite licenses.
“For example, in Zimbabwe, we have a 5 years contract with the city council of Bulawayo where we collect payments for their services on their behalf from their customers”, says Phaladze.
The wallet platform has a voucher system that allows money to be sent or payments to be made locally or even across borders in the form of food stuffs and other household goods.
Phaladze gave an example of what the service that the companies continue to offer to Zimbabwe nationals living in Botswana and South Africa.
“They simply load their Greydot wallet at any of the 75000 outlets where we are found in South Africa, Shoprite/Checkers, Game, Macro, Pep,Caltex, Spar, Pick n Pay, Boxer, via OTT in the locations etc, and in the case of those in Botswana, it is at Spar, Shoprite /Usave, and soon at Pep. After loading the wallet, they have the option to transfer some of the funds to airtime or to payments to whomever might be sitting on our platform, such as your Edgars, Dstv, utilities services companies, your private schools, funeral insurances, Metshelo societies, etc”, explains Phaladze.
In the Zimbabwe case, they would create a voucher and send it via our whatsapp intergration to a recipient in Zimbabwe who would receive it instantly and walk in to participating retailer and get groceries of their choice. In this time of Covid19, the regular way of sending food stuffs and other goods by road, via bo malaisha is very restricted, but supermarkets are classified as essential businesses, so people will always have access to food and other necessities via Greydot.
From Phaladze’s explanation of his company’s services, what can be done is unlimited and depends on ones’ creativity.