The partnership has been nearly a year in the making and was sealed by Reuben September, chief executive of Telkom, and Ronald Spears, president and chief executive of AT&T Business Solutions, at a ceremony in Johannesburg.
The deal will allow multinational companies seeking to establish or expand their operations in Africa to obtain IP-based and mobility services and applications more easily within the continent and around the world. These include emerging technologies such as tele-presence, cloud computing and hosted services.
September welcomed the agreement, saying that it "further entrenches the solid progress we have made in executing our strategic imperative".
"This agreement will definitely contribute to our objective of expanding our leadership position beyond the borders of our country. The fact that AT&T has chosen to conclude this MoU with Telkom is further testimony of the group's network reach and capability," he said.
"At the same time, the agreement will give impetus to Telkom's determination to expand geographically and become a fully fledged pan-African operator."
Under the terms of the MoU, the two companies will begin work to connect Telkom's regional network directly to the AT&T global network, as well as launch projects to deliver a wider geographic footprint of telecoms services, in sub-Saharan Africa and other global points.
This will include the enhancement of mobile services for corporate customers across sub-Saharan Africa, and the extension of a global virtual private network to support the network requirements of customers either headquartered, or seeking to expand sites in, sub-Saharan Africa.
"This opportunity is a milestone for AT&T. By working with Telkom we will be able to extend AT&T's world-class IP-based services to sub-Saharan Africa, as well as strengthen our ability to serve the needs of customers in the key South African market," said Spears.
"Advanced telecoms networking is a powerful driver of economic growth, prosperity and stability, and this agreement will help progress the availability of, and investment in, telecoms services in these countries. This deal provides AT&T with a significant opportunity to drive IP networking for mobile network operators to some of the most exciting, dynamic, but so far under-served markets in the world."
Spears added that a growing number of AT&T's global customers have some sort of presence in Africa, further spurring demand for better levels of access and communication across the region.
Although no specific projects or investments have been declared, the agreement is being hailed as a major step forward for the development of voice and data communication across both developed and rural Africa. Combined with initiatives such as the West Africa Cable System, internet access is set to become cheaper and more ubiquitous, helping to stimulate economies and improve standards of living.
"We have charted a clear course for ourselves," concluded September. "The strategic relationship that now exists between Telkom and AT&T provides significant impetus for this drive. It will generate new revenue opportunities and new chances to market our products and services."
Geoengineering on the sea floor near glaciers would form a new ice shelf to prevent melting
Alterations in capillary blood flow can be caused by body position change
Curiosity rover is in 'normal mode' but not transmitting scientific data back to base
NatWest outage comes a day after Barclays' IT systems shut out customers and staff