Africa Business Communities

Digital innovation driving growth and competition in DRC mining sector - Ali Bofulo

Digital innovation is driving transformation within the local mining sector. This shift, according to leading converged ICT solutions provider, iWayAfrica, is driving growth and becoming a key differentiator within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). With over 25 international mining groups active in the region, the mining sector has become significant as it is also widely known for the world's production of cobalt, copper, diamond, tantalum, tin, and gold.

Mr. Ali Bofulo, Managing Director, iWayAfrica, says that mining accounts for the DRC’s largest source of export income and is an important and growing sector: “While the region is ripe with opportunity, reliable, adaptable and ubiquitous connectivity is a critical enabler for a digital innovation roadmap. This is especially relevant to the mining sector, where connectivity requirements are more than just linking a remote site to a regional or global head office.”

If the DRC is to evolve, embrace digital innovation and increase its mining production, technology issues such as connectivity need to be addressed. This is becoming more relevant, according to Mr Bofulo, as organisations look to technology as a means to differentiate: “Internet of Things, among other digital technologies, have started driving increased automation and system reporting for performance and yield management. All of which requires real connectivity in remote areas to succeed.”

He says that this quest for improved productivity is driving the mining industry to implement more automated systems and seek greater IT integration: “Real-time monitoring, health and safety systems, security services, online customs clearance and access to ERP applications are among the key mining issues being addressed through digital innovation.”

While the market has responded to the changing landscape in a multitude of ways, Mr Bofulo says that iWayAfrica, together with parent company, Gondwana International Networks (GIN), launched a satellite communications Hub in South Africa to offer its new pan-regional Ku-band satellite service, Jola: “This service is available across Sub-Saharan Africa via authorised partners of iWayAfrica, and provides lower latency for Intra-Africa traffic. This enables and improved the use of ERP applications. It also has the potential to provide the technology boost mining requires to stay competitive and innovative.”

Leveraging Intelsat 28 Ku-Band coverage and utilising efficient and leading technology on the ground, Jola offers the widest coverage access across sub-Saharan Africa with the most flexible service offering.  Mr Bofulo says that this approach enables end-users to combine optimal speed, monthly data usage and budget: “The mining sector can now deploy satellite for various cases that suits the specific requirements. This includes single or multi-site connectivity, real-time monitoring systems, occasional WiFi usage or as back-up connectivity.”

An integral and integrated part of the iWayAfrica service portfolio, satellite last mile connectivity is seamlessly incorporated into existing fibre MPLS networks to provide remote site connectivity to regional head offices for a multitude of applications. A back-up and business continuity service is also available. Called Jola SOS, this is a low-cost, always on 10Mbps VSAT back-up link, with fixed data allowances that can be topped up as and when required. Provisioned with automated switchover to and from satellite, Jola SOS is designed to complement existing fibre or wireless networks.

“Satellite has long been used as an access technology by mining and exploration companies in establishing communications in remote sites. Now these same companies can leverage off enhancements in the satellite industry to implement their own digital innovation strategies in the same remote locations,” says Mr Bofulo.


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