digitalthings offer the services of a large group of expert-level consultants who collaborate on an ad-hoc basis to meet specific client needs. We tailor our teams and services to suit each client, ensuring the highest quality results and value for money. Profiles of selected few key team members can be seen below, nevertheless, our extended team covers a wider range of expertise from solution architects to research analysts, business architects to environmental specialists and more.
Bora Varliyagci, CEO
Roy Blatch, Associate
Bora is the CEO of digitalthings and before establishing digitalthings, Bora was the head of Africa for the digital infrastructure practice of Mott MacDonald.
His over 21 years’ international experience in the telecommunications industry covers emerging markets from Asia, Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe to the Middle East and Africa.
Throughout his career, Bora has successfully set-up new businesses and practices, established and managed large project teams in emerging markets, pioneered strategic alliances and partnerships with both industry players and investors and led the development of practical solutions to complex business challenges.
His understanding of the African telecommunications market and background in strategy and negotiations combined with his commercial experience bring unique support and value-add to his clients.His business engagements included communication service providers, funders and investors, regulators, and technology vendors both in private and public sectors.
Bora thrives to contribute expansion of broadband footprint globally and digital inclusion as a human right.
A qualified electronic engineer with over 27 years of technical experience in the telecommunications industry. For the past 17 years, he has provided consultancy services to private equity firms, network operators, service providers, system integrators and government, primarily focussing on the physical infrastructure layer including fibre, wireless, satellite and supporting components such as facilities, network monitoring and ISP operations.
Widely respected for his solid technical background and sound business and operational experience, Roy has provided technical and business leadership for over 100 projects including due diligence, technical design, business case development and assessment, network planning and rollout, operations optimisation and programme management. Roy has advised numerous companies in Africa and abroad including EOH, Internet Solutions, BCX, Convergence Partners, Intelsat, Eutelsat, and BT.
Roy graduated with a BSc Electronic Engineering (cum laude) from the University of Cape Town. Following that he was involved in design and system engineering in the telecoms and defence sectors (radar and electronic warfare) and headed up the ground segment operations at the Satellite Application Centre where he acquired extensive operational and management expertise.
Arif Hussain, Associate
Kerron Edmunson, Associate
Arif has broad exposure to the ICT industry, with over 20 years’ experience across the fibre-optic, mobile, wireless broadband, satellite signal distribution, fixed-line, and ISP domains.
He possesses in-depth business development and financial expertise both at strategic and operational levels, having initiated and overseen large-scale telecommunications start-up projects from concept and fund-raising right through to construction and commercial operations, notably in the wholesale, open-access fibre-optic network sector as the founding CEO of FibreCo Telecommunications.
As CFO of MTN Group’s greenfield project to launch the second GSM operator in Iran from the award of the licence right through the construction and launch phase, until the subscriber base passed the 1 million mark. Arif was responsible for developing the financial strategy, operational blueprint, organizational structure and project implementation plan. This was followed by the establishment of all operational functions including procurement, business planning, financial accounting, expenditure processes, revenue management, project and fixed asset accounting, management reporting and treasury.
Arif has also held Board and Audit Committee positions with MTN Uganda, MTN Cameroon, MTN Network Solutions, MTN Ivory Coast and Orbicom.
Kerron Edmunson’s experience is derived from practising since 1994 in South Africa; in a top 10 law firm in the United Kingdom as a solicitor for 5 years; on projects in an additional 25 countries in a wide variety of regulatory matters in the public and private sector; and having acted as in-house counsel for 3 telecommunications companies in South Africa and 2 in the United Kingdom.
Kerron has been practising as a legal and regulatory consultant internationally (based in Johannesburg) since 2006. She remains on the non-practising roll of solicitors in the United Kingdom and on the non-practising roll of attorneys in South Africa.
She has advised, with numerous international teams, on wholesale communications projects involving cable consortia, fibre consortia (dark and lit), and the legal and regulatory framework in South Africa for electronic communications. She advises both fixed and mobile operators, ISPs, and wholesale capacity providers; and has advised two tower companies on various regulatory matters in South Africa. In infrastructure, she has advised numerous companies and the FTTx Council on sharing, leasing, and rights of way.
She has also advised two SOCs on their wholesale business, site-sharing, and access to facilities. She has also advised the City of Cape Town on a wholesale open-access network, and a successful bidder on their network arrangements with the City of Tshwane. Working with an international advisory company, she has advised the DTPS (now the DOC) on the implementation of Chapter 4 of the ECA, also known as “rapid deployment”, which advice included interviews with numerous municipalities and provincial government agencies; roads, rail and water authorities; Eskom, Transnet, and SANRAL; and other Ministries. The advice was incorporated in the ICT White Paper National Policy, published in 2016.
Christoph Klein, Associate
George Debbo, Associate
Christoph Klein is senior project finance professional with extensive exposure to projects in infrastructure and telecommunication in Europe, the Middle East, South America and Africa.
Until recently he served for six years as Project Director for Nedbank - a leading bank in project finance in South Africa. He has a strong background in structuring and closing limited-recourse infrastructure projects with particular focus on the telecommunication sector.
Christoph has successfully contributed to structuring the funding of landmark projects in the submarine cable, mobile and fixed telecommunication space. Before joining Nedbank’s investment banking division, he worked for ten years at Detecon, the consulting branch of Deutsche Telekom AG, where he was promoted to Partner and head of transaction services responsible for due diligence processes, bid books, business case modeling, valuation and M&A projects. During his tenure at Detecon he led more than 20 corporate finance projects for large telecom operators, pension funds, banks and governments across the globe.
He also acquired executive operational experience while serving as CFO for the incumbent operator in La Paz, Bolivia. Christoph started his professional career at Accenture in the project-controlling department and holds a German university degree as economist.
George has over 40 years experience in the telecommunications industry, two-third's of which was spent in an Operator's environment, and the remaining one-third in the vendor community. He therefore has knowledge and insight on both sides of the telecommunications spectrum, and can use this experience to add value to both Operators and Service Providers, as well as equipment vendors.
George is a registered Professional Engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). George is a Fellow of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) and serves as this body’s Vice President as well as on its Exco and Council.
His areas of speciality are Software Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) within the carrier and operator environment, as well as next generation transmission networks (both optical and microwave), fixed broadband access, carrier ethernet and mobile backhaul.
Chris Pollard, Associate
Audrey Solomon, Consultant
Chris has been consulting in the telecommunications and information technology markets for over 35 years. His specific areas of expertise allow him to provide a combination of both business analysis and regulatory policy development.
Chris’ early experience focused on market analysis and business strategy in the UK and Europe, and in particular the development of forecasting and analytic models for the rapidly developing UK mobile sector in the 1990s. Following liberalisation in the Middle East, he served as the Economic Director for the newly formed Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in Bahrain in 2003-4, and provided regulatory strategy and advice to a number of regulatory authorities and operators in the Middle East and Asia.
Chris has gained a wide understanding of regulatory policy at an international, European and UK level, through projects advising operators entering markets and through direct advice to regulators on policy and regulatory implementation issues. International experience has included developing the market analysis framework and procedures for ICASA in South Africa and subsequently determining significant market power and regulatory remedies in the call termination and broadcast transmission markets in South Africa.
Since 2008, Chris has focused on both regulatory and business analysis consulting, and until 2015 led the quantitative analysis function within the Technology and Communications practice at Mott MacDonald. He has provided business strategy, market analysis, costing and economic analysis to enterprises, operators, utilities and regulatory authorities in Southern Africa, Europe, and the UK.
Audrey is an MBA graduate that specialises in strategic management, strategic leadership and organizational performance. Audrey has worked on key capital projects within digital infrastructure in South Africa and Africa for over 7 years. These projects aim to improve network technology and capabilities, as well as business management and related IT infrastructure.
She is a high performing, focused and exceptionally organized professional with natural leadership skills. She brings with her many exceptional qualities which include strong programme management, problem-solving and analytical thinking skills.
Some of Audrey's key experience and skills include;
Project/Programme Management | Strategy Formulation | Mergers & Acquisitions | Organisational Structure Design | Operating Model Design | Strategy execution | Sustainable Business Models | Operational Turnaround & Improvement | Business Process Re-engineering/Lean | Digital Transformation | Corporate Governance | Customer and Supply Chain Management | Contingency planning | Risk Management | Crisis Management
Herman Pretorius, Associate
Herman is an experienced telecommunication executive with outstanding analytical skills, experience in strategic and regulatory analysis, in-depth understanding of the business value chain and mobile network operations. Herman has taken executive roles at leading telecommunication service providers such as Cell C and Telkom; and advised many other incumbents such as MTN. Herman was also instrumental in getting new broadband players on to the market such as Smile Communications and several MVNOs.
Herman is a dynamic leader and team builder of multi-cultural teams. His experience and specialities include;
Management of strategic partnerships, programmes and projects;
Commercial and business negotiations;
M&A activities (strategic and corporate finance analysis);
Structuring new businesses from strategic assessment, commercial negotiations and agreements, value proposition development to market delivery.