By Gugu Lourie
A provider of wireless data machine-to-machine (M2M) services wants to help municipalities and big corporates to detect water leaks, cope with power outages and improve other efficiencies as it aims to make R1bn a year in the process.
XLink Communications CEO Anton Leal said the firm is looking at acquisitions, forming business partnerships, assisting start-ups and providing smart services as part of its growth strategy.
XLink, which was founded in 2004, provides smart solutions that help municipalities and other big corporates
save resources, optimise their budget spend and reduce inefficiencies.
Municipalities can use the company’s M2M services to instantly detect water leaks and unauthorised use.
XLink is also operating on the rest of the continent where it sells products that offer efficiencies through automation.
Leal says the plan is to take the company’s solutions beyond Africa through Vodacom, which owns 50.1% of
XLink, and its parent company Vodafone via joint ventures. Pan African Equity Fund 1 holds 25.1% of the business and the remaining 24.8% is owned by XLink management.
Speaking exclusively to Finweek, Leal says XLink has its eyes on four or five small companies in South Africa. “Given
our understanding of M2M or Internet of Things (IoT) segments, we come across young companies who have good
solutions, but they need take to market capability.
“So, we are looking at a couple of small investments at the moment where we can invest in that company for the right reasons and use our agile structure and expertise to take to market their solutions. We have agreed on a road [to take] to become a billion-rand company,” explains Leal.
However, he wouldn’t be drawn into providing timelines for concluding the transactions.
As part of its growth strategy, XLink recently partnered with KT Utility Forensics, a company that provides energy
metering for automated consumption, tracking and management.
Leal says KT Utility Forensics is a small South African firm with a “niche smart-metering electricity monitoring solution” that is yet to be scaled up to service in volumes.
He says using KT Utility Forensics solutions at XLink’s head offices in Craighall Park, Johannesburg, his company has saved R60 000 a month on its electricity bill.
The M2M provider has also collaborated with WRP, a niche smartmetering water monitoring solutions
firm, to detect water leaks being charged as consumption, overcome estimated billing and waste management of water for large industrial sites.
Another niche player that XLink partnered with is Oilguard, owned by Ireland-based Sentinel Fuel Products,
operating through a smaller outfit in SA.
Leal says one of the country’s big five banks is already using Oilguard’s diesel-monitoring solution to ensure
that its generators are ready to cope with power outages. The solution helps with unprotected fuel storage tanks, theft and pilferage.
“We are looking at deals with cellular network operators on helping with their cellular base station power management,” says Leal.
XLink is also extending its reach into smart monitoring for refrigeration management in the retail sector. Leal
says a national pharmaceutical retailer is using its refrigeration-monitoring solution to proactively comply with
health and safety regulations.
The company – which already enables point-of-sale communication in 12 African countries including SA, Angola,
Mozambique and Zimbabwe – also has plans to expand its footprint in the region.
“We also follow Vodacom Business, South African banks and retailers, because they have a foot on the ground
and they know what’s happening in the region,” explains Leal.