African innovation is at the heart of Intel’s interest in the African technology market. Intel Capital is Intel’s investment division that makes equity investments in innovative technology start-ups and established companies.
Currently Intel Capital is seeking lucrative investment opportunities in African technology.
“Intel Capital is always on the lookout for companies that we can support. We look for investments that can provide a strategic return on investment, says Samuel Mensah, Intel Capital Director for Sub-Saharan Africa.
During an interview with ITNewsAfrica (www.itnewsafrica.com), Mensah confirmed that Intel Capital has invested $10 billion in over 50 countries and in over 1000 companies, mostly start-ups.
The first African investment was made in South Africa through JSE listed Allied Technologies Limited, Altech.
Mensah said the reason Intel Capital chose Altech is “ the company is technologically very strong. We believe Altech’s technical capabilities are as strong as any we’ve seen anywhere in the world.”
African strategic investment
Intel Capital, Intel’s global investment arm has concluded a $5 million investment agreement with the South African JSE listed company.
The Altech deal is pending shareholder approval and is expected to be ratified by 20 July 2011.
“The shareholders’ have to approve the deal. We can then start with serious engagement with Altech,” Mensah.
Mensah believes that the more broadband is available in Africa, the more computing people can do. He says one of the reasons the company invested in Altech is mainly due to its Pan African presence in East and West Africa.
“We have a vested interest in expanding broadband services in Africa. The investment is for Africa and Intel,” says Mensah.
Intel Capital’s plan is to increase broadband services and general access.
Mensha says the current African broadband challenge is that the market is still fragmented, says Mensah.
“Africa has 1 billion people who are fragmented into small entities with their own rules and regulations..”
“We need to get the capacity inland to where people are. Africa has been starved of broadband, now that we’re getting it, we should make sure we put it to good use by investing in good content and applications.
“We see enormous potential especially in the penetration of the mobile phone. This is becoming the first experience into the Internet, which directly leads to the migration to laptop and tablets.
We will keep investing in applications and services that will keep people interested in the Internet. It has to be relevant to the lives of people in Africa,” says Mensah.
“Broadband in Africa will really take off. It will be a lot more commonplace. The reach will increase significantly compared to where it is today. “
Most African countries have the potential to qualify for Intel Capital’s investment plans. The company is currently evaluating a number of potential countries on the continent.
Commenting on the recent Altech agreement, CEO Craig Venter said the investment was evidence of the new market opportunities that are emerging as large-scale broadband communication infrastructure become available on the continent.
Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital and Intel executive vice president said “Altech has a track record of bringing new broadband services and products to the African marketplace. We strive to foster technology innovation globally and stimulate economic activity on the African continent.
Other Intel Capital’s investments include RIM, VMWare, AVG, Citrix and RedHat.