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Likusasa November 09 www. bus- ex. com 93 challenge essential for business, Africa could companies in the infrastructure sector, Becky Done reports H eadquartered in Mauritius but with offices in Johannesburg and the other African countries where it is active, Likusasa's primary focus is on the rolling out of distributed infrastructure including distributed power and mobile telecommunications networks in sub- Saharan Africa. Established in 1995, the company was actually the telecommunications division of international contractor Kentz until the middle of 2007. " At that time, telecommunications wasn't really its area of focus," explains Gerry Shields, a director and co- owner of Likusasa. So Shields partnered with Gary Staunton, now also co- owner and director, to buy out the company. The pair now own and run the business as it is today. " After the management buyout, we were very successful in diversifying the company and in growing it in a way that we believe is going to be quite sustainable," says Shields. Today, the company counts such major names as MTN, Vodacom, Eskom and France Telecom among its many clients, working with them on telecommunications, cable networks and related infrastructure projects in countries across Africa, including Ghana, Nigeria, Congo, Cameroon, Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Since telecommunications in Africa are still vastly underdeveloped, that particular market has proved relatively resilient in the face of global recession, meaning Likusasa has been able to maintain its strong growth rate. " We've been fortunate to be in that market- it has been very buoyant even during this downturn," explains Shields. " We've been able to grow organically and develop a very strong track record in the industry. We haven't looked at acquisitions- it simply hasn't been necessary in our development of the company. But we have been looking at growing our service offering into other industries within the infrastructure sector, such as renewable energy." Renewable energy in Africa is a potentially huge market, says Shields. " Development in Africa is going to require investment in power, and I think part of that investment will be in the renewable sector," he says. " And with the model we're looking at, renewable projects, certainly in the telecommunications sector, can generate payback in two to three years. So we see that as producing a lot of opportunities for us in the future." Mobile phone base stations are one segment of the market that could benefit massively from the application of renewable energy- and there's no shortage of them. " There's an enormous amount of diesel- generated power being used to run base stations," explains Staunton. " There are tens of thousands of these base stations all over Africa running on diesel generators and the cost to deliver the diesel is so excessive that it's actually becoming commercially viable to