Yang Jun, ZTE Enterprise Business Vice President for international sales and marketing said that Chinese telecoms giant ZTE is planning to bring smart rail solutions to the South African market. Jun said that South Africa has an expansive railway network, but the technology being used in the country is old, dating back maybe 25 years.
The plans, which were first announced in July, were confirmed by Yang Jun, adding that ZTE together with a number of its Chinese partners will invest billions of rands to modernize SA’s rail infrastructure. Jun was in South Africa attending the Forum on China-Africa Co-Operation (FOCAC) Summit.
FOCAC, which was established in 2000 aims to promote bilateral ties and co-operation between China and Africa through dialogue. According to Jun, ZTE has not engaged the South African government on the deal, but it is reaching out through its local partners. He disclosed that the company has signed a contract with EOH to bring smart rail solutions to SA.
“ZTE and its partners are set to invest in the South African rail system. The bulk of the finance will be provided by different Chinese companies and ZTE will mostly be making its investment in the ICT part of the project,” Jun said.
“We co-operate with many local companies to deliver solutions. We have no intention to engage directly with the government, but we work behind our local partners to get the relationships with the South African government,” he said.
ZTE’s iRail solution features include broadband communication, providing rail systems with broadband communication networks based on LTE for rail, and 100G optic network technologies. It also uses cloud computation architectures as rail transportation information platforms, integrating the existing applications, deploying virtual desktops, unified communication, and new applications.
In October, EOH announced the acquisition of Mehleketo, a local provider of rail automation and technology solutions, for an undisclosed amount. It is one of the top rail signalling and communications engineering and systems integration solutions providers in SA, and has a number of long-term projects as well as maintenance and support contracts with the major operators in the country.
“The speed of the trains is also very slow, the efficiency is low, and the system experiences a lot of problems. ZTE wants to deliver digital technology in SA’s railways so that they become smart,” he pointed out.