BMI-T Consulting


BMI-T Company profile and background

BMI-T is a consulting and market research firm with headquarters in Johannesburg. BMI-T’s mission is to be a trusted and respected research and advisory partner to our clients by providing them with valuable information and strategic advice in order to help them to implement their strategies effectively.

Since 1990, the firm has provided practical and pragmatic assistance to clients in a wide variety of industries, particularly the ICT sector, and has conducted extensive projects for leading South African corporate companies, governmental institutions and other private and public entities throughout Africa.

History

A pioneer in business-to-business commercial and industrial research, BMI was founded in the late 1970's. BMI-TechKnowledge Group was established as a separate company in 1990, to focus on researching the rapidly emerging South African 'high tech' industry. BMI-T has participated in major events shaping the telecommunications policy landscape, commencing with the establishment of the National Telecoms Forum in 1993. We are active in assisting government with ICT and broadband strategies at national, provincial and metro level.

BMI-T was a pioneer of BEE in South Africa when it started its BEE programme in 1997. Major enterprise development projects include the creation of Forge Ahead-BMI-T, a majority owned black ICT Research and Events Company. BMI-T has a BEE partner with an equity stake of over 30%.

While retaining its research roots, the company has grown substantially to provide a sophisticated set of client-oriented consulting services, based on the provision of high-level information, expert advice and shoulder-to-shoulder implementation assistance.

Due diligence, business case evaluation and planning experience.

BMI-T combines research from its own databases on African telecoms markets with data from the project sponsors and other secondary sources, in support of playing its role of independent advisor. Our experience covers fixed and mobile networks, terrestrial and submarine fibre optic networks, wireless access networks, and a wide range of telecoms and IT services.
The outcome of each due diligence study is a considered judgement on the soundness of the investment, based on risk analysis and an independent assessment of risk mitigation activities that have been taken by the project's sponsors.

Each due diligence engagement typically entails an appraisal of supplied documentation and data, a business and financial model review, and a review of any documentation provided by the project sponsor, to facilitate the provision of expert opinion regarding the viability, risk profile, and recommendations for modifications and / or improvements to existing plans and requirements. As due diligence advisor, BMI-T's brief would be to use its extensive knowledge of the African telecommunications market, to scrutinise the project sponsor's business case with a view to:

  • Confirming market size and growth rate, by creating scenarios for upside and worst case situations.
  • Confirming whether the Sponsor's marketing strategy is correct and viable in order to secure the required customers.
  • Scrutinising the practicality of the underlying assumptions used in the business case, including market growth rate and market pricing trends and their impact on the projected revenues.
  • Considering the impact of other competitors or potential new entrants, and the Sponsor’ ability to capture market share based on its competitive position.

Since inception in 1990, BMI-T has conducted numerous research and consulting projects in sub-Saharan Africa, including investment reviews for operators and funding arrangers, in South and Southern Africa, Nigeria and various East African countries.

These include:

  • Submarine cable due diligences (2007, 2008, 2012).
  • Trans-regional terrestrial fibre feasibility study (fourteen African countries).
  • National long distance transmission – due diligence, business case assessment, business plan (Nigeria 2006, South Africa 2010).
  • Metro fibre projects (2008, 2011, 2012).
  • Metro Ethernet / Carrier Ethernet (2011).
  • Wireless cellular, CDMA, microwave, WiMAX/WiFi/wireless mesh projects.
  • DSL vs wireless broadband strategy for a converged fixed and mobile operator.
  • New fixed line operator and strategic equity partner (country and market entry strategy and detailed market plan).
  • Wireless operator (full strategy review).
  • SADC eReadiness review (2002) and SADC investment opportunities study (2003/4) for the World Bank.
  • Various other due diligence and business case assessments, including: hosting, payment gateways, call centres, BPO and related offshoring opportunities, Voice/VoIP/SIP, international gateway, IP peering, data centres, towers/masts and other infrastructure sharing.

BMI-T routinely conducts its own research projects in the region, for example:

  • Telecoms Opportunities in the SADC/EAC region (2004, 2005, 2006).
  • The Nigerian Telecoms Market (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007).
  • African Telecoms Infrastructure Investment (annual from 2005 through 2012).
  • African Broadband and Wireless Access Market, (annual from 2006 through 2012).
  • Outlook for Submarine and Terrestrial Fibre Optic Cables in Africa (2008, 2010).
  • Regulatory Trends Across Africa (2008, 2010).
  • Outlook for WiMAX and CDMA in Africa (2008).
  • Outlook for Terrestrial Fibre Projects in South and Southern Africa (2010).
  • Sub-Saharan African Bandwidth model (on-going)

Track record in telecommunications infrastructure and policy development

In terms of national policy development, BMI-T’s track record is unequalled in South Africa. The company has undertaken and completed extensive policy work in the ICT space for more than 22 years, with BMI-T directors Denis Smit, Brian Neilson and Mandla Kuzwayo all going as far back as being a part of the consultative process when the 'Green and White Paper on Telecommunications' was released and resulted in the Telecommunications Amendment Act 2001.

More recently, BMI-T has taken on policy work for the PNC on the e-Readiness Barometer, for the DoC in terms of the International Peer Benchmarking Study on the Cost to Communicate in South Africa project and furthermore, for USAASA on the Gazetting of the Definitions Paper on Universal Service and Access. BMI-T also developed the Gazetted discussion paper on Universal Access and Service Obligations for ICASA as well as the Universal Service and Access Definitions for the DoC. Denis Smit is a member of the DoC Ministerial Broadband Advisory Committee and has advised the DoC’s broadband policies and strategies since 2009.

In terms of Broadband, BMI-T has been researching the broadband market since 1994, publishing an annual African Wireless and Broadband Access Market Report where we have sized the market in terms of connections and revenues as well as doing multiple customised research projects for the major operators and government departments covering this topic. BMI-T also has extensive experience in broadband at provincial, metro and municipal level where we have assisted provinces including KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Limpopo and Mpumulanga, as well as Metro Municipalities including the City of Johannesburg with their broadband strategy. BMI-T also had the visionary thought leadership to host the Digital Cities events from 2006-2009 where we brought out international speakers to share their ideas about government driven broadband initiatives at municipal and city level.

In 2008, BMI-T also produced the Digital Communities Handbook which furthered the knowledge and debate about the need for government intervention in broadband in South Africa.

BMI-T has been involved in advising, evaluating and measuring the under serviced areas in the past for the DoC, ICASA, USAASA and National Treasury. BMI-T was also appointed to USAASA’s Project Management Advisory Panel for 2011.

BMI-T has conducted economic and investment analysis on ICT Infrastructure projects for Provincial Governments in South Africa. As mentioned above, the notable examples are the projects undertaken for KwaZulu-Natal in 2009 and the Western Cape in 2011-2012. Both projects involved economic investment analysis on broadband as well as broadband mapping to identify gaps, model rollout and determine the role of the public private sector and SOEs.

Specific experience includes:

  • BMI-T provided due diligence on the SEACOM submarine cable for a South African-based investment consortium.
  • BMI-T created the investment case for an independent carriers’ carrier to build fibre optic cable on a shared, open access basis in the major metropolitan areas of South Africa, leading to successful project funding and rollout.
  • BMI-T undertook a major market strategy, cost and profitability review of a prominent broadband service provider in South Africa.
  • BMI-T conducted a network market assessment and due diligence including analysis of technical plan and financial model for a wireless VoIP operator with network ambitions in East Africa and West Africa.
  • BMI-T performed a technical and economic evaluation of a VoIP over Meshed WiFi network for a South African investor.
  • BMI-T publishes annual and African Wireless and Broadband Access Market Reports where we size the market in terms of connections and revenues as well as doing multiple customised research projects for the major operators and government departments covering this topic.
  • BMI-T conducted the Study of Broadband Coverage, Penetration, Speed and Cost for the DoC and this demonstrates our ability to do multiple country broadband analysis and benchmarking in developed and developing markets.
  • The team also brings its experience in econometric modeling and economic impact and cost benefit analyses of other significant public infrastructure projects in sectors such as transport and energy. From this, we therefore have a thorough understanding and knowledge of the requirements of Government and National Treasury in project finance.
  • A large market study in a neighbouring African country for a converged fixed and mobile operator, advising on the operator’s broadband strategy, including technical, customer and market demand assessment, competitive environment, evaluation of alternatives.
  • The SADC e-Readiness Study (World Bank funded), through the South African Department of Communications (2002).
  • The SADC private investment opportunities investigation for the World Bank (2003).
  • A sixteen-country study into existing terrestrial fibre deployments in each country in the COMESA economic grouping (2004).
  • National broadband strategy (DSL, WBB, WiMAX, CDMA2000) for the fixed network operator in Lesotho (2008).
  • South African and African Wireless Broadband Opportunities Study (2009).
  • Development of provincial broadband plan for KwaZulu-Natal including economic impact study and network design (optical, access layer and OAM&P layers) (2009).
  • Market sizing and strategy for Broadband Infraco (2011).
  • Techno-commercial evaluation of wireless technologies (WiFi, WiMAX) (Regional) (2010).
  • Technology consulting on CDMA2000, WiFi Mesh and WiMAX networking. (2009, 2010, 2011).

Advisory Specialists

BMI-T offers strategic support, advisory services and information to enhance decision making, enabling organisations to fulfil their mandate to the citizens of South Africa.

Our key areas of strategic research are in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector where we specialise in policy, position papers, research, strategic frameworks, implementation plans, as well as multi-country benchmarking. These services also extend to organising events and stakeholder facilitation, as well as assisting with presentations, and compiling and publishing consultative documents. BMI-T also carries out monitoring and evaluation of key performance indicators at national, provincial and local levels.

BMI-T can source and provide quality information in support of:

  • Policy, regulatory and market information in the IT, telecommunications, broadcasting and financial services sector.
  • National, provincial and local government ICT strategy research and advisory services.
  • Monitoring and evaluating ICT indicators and performance.
  • ICT economic and social impact studies.
  • Multi-country ICT benchmarking.
  • Position papers.

The service areas BMI-T focuses on are:

  • Governmental and provincial ICT strategies.
  • Impact of policy and regulations on the ICT industry.
  • Socio-economic impact of ICT.
  • National, provincial and local broadband.
  • Market gaps and universal service and access.
  • Monitoring and evaluating.
  • Citizen awareness and satisfaction.

Our extensive experience includes:

  • Multi-country and regional research for SA, Africa, SADC, and NEPAD.
  • Advising strategic and policy-making units in the DoC, PNC, ICASA and DoC.
  • Consulting to regulatory authorities like ICASA and the Botswana Regulatory Authority.
  • Monitoring and evaluation performance indicators for the DoC, DoC and PNC.
  • Provincial, metro and municipal ICT consulting and advisory services.
  • ICT research and consulting for public sector and SOEs such as the DPSA, DTI, DPE and SITA.
  • Consumer awareness and satisfaction for all government departments.

BMI-T’s ICT Research Expertise

BMI-T conducts large scale research projects through our extensive primary and secondary research capabilities. We have a long track record in business, consumer and government market studies, which have informed the strategies of many of the largest players in the telecoms and IT industries. These primary research capabilities, coupled with our extensive knowledge base and highly experienced consulting team, positions BMI-T as the service provider of choice for market strategy services.

BMI-T have built up a considerable knowledge base over the years through the publication of hundreds of published research titles, including many iterations of our widely-known and respected pan-African Communication Technologies Handbook (the 20th edition was published in September 2011). BMI-T has provided custom information services to clients through the use of our wide-ranging methodologies such as:

  • Consumer, business and government research surveys.
  • Qualitative research.
  • Secondary research.
  • In-depth analyst interviews.
  • Online surveys.
  • Market modelling and forecasting.

Past Clients

BMI-T’s clients include the DoC, ICASA, USAASA, Treasury, DPSA, DTI, Sentech, Broadband Infraco, KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government, Western Cape Government, Telkom, MTN, Vodacom, Neotel, Altech, Broadband Infraco, iBurst, DBSA and major investment banks (including ABSA Capital, Investec, Nedbank Capital, Shanduka, Macquarie, Harith Fund Managers).
BMI-T has over 50 major companies or government entities as annual repeat business clients.

Stakeholder Relationships

BMI-T is well known and highly respected in the South African telecoms landscape. We have excellent relationships with key customers, vendors, authorities and government ministries and agencies. We have excellent relationships with, amongst others, the Department of Communications (DoC), the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE), ICASA, USAASA, SITA and Broadband Infraco. We also have on-going interaction with all the operators who not only provide us with information but also subscribe to our annual publications.

Neutrality

Our team is totally independent from any equipment vendor, both locally and internationally. Likewise we are independent from any service provider, ISP or similar.

Our independence assures an impartial and unbiased opinion which serves the best interests of the client, free of any vendor influence or bias.

Case Studies

Market entry and ongoing strategic assistance for a network operator

Client: a new start-up telecoms operator

Problem statement