Having spearheaded the Paratus Zambia operation for the past ten years, Marius van Vuuren has taken the pan-African telco to number three in the Zambia market – no mean feat in a crowded and complex market. But then Marius is a rare breed, which didn’t escape the notice of the Paratus Group’s founders.  Barney Harmse spotted Marius’s talent early on when the two men were associates in Namibia.  While Marius was a top executive at SALT Essential IT, which used Paratus for many of its network requirements, Barney saw his value as a leader and the kind of man they needed at Paratus in Zambia.

And so began Marius’s mission to take Paratus Zambia from a humble start-up to a major telco force in the country today.  It also kicked off Marius’s love affair with Zambia.  “This is a magnificent country.  The people are open and friendly and there is a culture of working and playing equally hard.  I am firmly rooted here now.”  This is not only because Marius met his wife in Zambia but also because he sees how the country plays an important role in serving its own citizens as well as those in neighbouring countries.  Paratus has been instrumental in preparing for the digital revolution and in helping to get behind business in Zambia to ensure they may benefit from the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).

A key intervention in this process was the construction of the Paratus Data Center in Lusaka, which opened in 2021.  Marius has a personal ethos which permeates everything he does.  “There’s only one way to do things and that’s the right way. Taking short cuts only costs in the long term and it’s imperative that we get it right from the get-go.”   So, Marius took it upon himself to oversee every detail of this massive build by applying both his engineering skills and his managerial skills to ensure the DC was built to the highest and most exacting standards.  As a Tier-III (by design) state-of-the-art facility, the Paratus DC in Zambia has been internationally accredited and is a world-class sophisticated colocation DC that forms an important part of the ever-growing suite of DCs that the Paratus Group now owns and operates in Africa.

As Marius explains: “Our mission is to transform Africa through exceptional digital infrastructure and customer service.  We want to ensure we help Zambian businesses participate in the new digital era.  For that, they need high quality connectivity and local colocation facilities… and we’re ready for their future success.”

Born and bred in Namibia, Marius spent ten years studying engineering and then working, in Germany.  Sadly, he doesn’t use his German bilingualism any longer – except among friends – but he certainly uses what he was taught in one of the most successful technologically advanced countries in the world every day. “Paratus is, in short, an infrastructure company and one that is helping to engineer the future in Africa.  Many of the business leaders in the group are engineers – we understand what’s needed and we know how it works.  That’s key to our success.”

After just 20 years in Africa, Paratus is already a major telco player with an impressive footprint on the continent.   Owning its own infrastructure, building expert teams in seven southern African countries, and serving customers across the continent with a seamless quality network service – these are the cornerstones of the Paratus group’s success so far. Paratus Group also has points of presence (PoPs) in the USA, UK and Europe and provides services in 35 more African countries via its satellite network; it successfully landed the Equiano subsea cable in Namibia; and has already built four of its own Data Center facilities in three African countries.

Marius is particularly proud of the fact that he’s never really failed at anything he’s set out to do and he has made it his mission to learn every facet of the business.  He developed both his financial and managerial skills and, because he’s a self-confessed obsessive-compulsive man, he doesn’t stop until the job is done and done properly.   And his prowess extends beyond the business too because his love of cooking has made him the talk of the Paratus Group – everyone wants to go to Zambia and sample Marius’s food, their reputation being of legendary proportions.

In true modest style, Marius says that he just adds salt and pepper. Everyone knows, though, that the Marius magic combined with his passion to make it a lot more special than merely a seasoned steak on the braai.

With 57 employees now under his guidance and having already achieved the enviable position of reaching the number three spot in the Zambian market, Marius has carved a steady path to success.  “We have every intention of making it to the number one position”, he says, and his colleagues, his peers and possibly even his competitors would probably all agree that he’s unlikely to fail in this regard too.

Find out more about Paratus here.