Team and Partners

We have solid and practical on-the-ground experience

Connect Earth’s founders have a combined 75 years’ experience in connecting the underserved. We have a team of highly experienced and respected advisors and our commercial partners are all at the leading edge of technology development.













We have solid and practical on-the-ground experience

Connect Earth’s founders have a combined 75 years’ experience in connecting the underserved. We have a team of highly experienced and respected advisors and our commercial partners are all at the leading edge of technology development.













Co Founders

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Paul Muller – CEO

Paul Muller’s twenty years’ experience in the telecoms industry, from the early days of Internet service provision to COO of publicly listed Vox Telecom (SA) and multiple connectivity initiatives, led to the co-founding Connect Earth. Paul’s passion is in catalysing socio-economic and educational transformation to help create a free market economy of viable and stable SMMEs powered by the digital economy.  Paul has been advising potential international investors seeking insight into the South African telecoms & ITC industry for 25 years and is a past associate of the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship.  

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Dion Jerling – Business Development

Dion’s 30 years’ entrepreneurial experience internationally has honed a skill for strategic vision and a knack for spotting gaps, be they in a market, a story, or a business. An international career starting in the UK in 1987 led to setting up various online advertising initiatives in the nascent days of the dotcom boom before moving back to Africa and founding Connect Africa in 2004, a socially driven enterprise instrumental in extending GSM coverage to rural areas across South Africa and Zambia. Dion subsequently co-founded Connect Earth with Paul and Ellie in 2016. Twenty four years’ TMT experience, combined with a passionate belief in Africa and its youth, now forms the basis of a drive to bring broadband connectivity to all of Africa's underserved - with a focus on its youth. 

The economic future of our rapidly changing World lies with today's youth. Africa, with the youngest population on Earth, has a vital role to play in future global growth. With the right skills and motivation Africa's youth can learn to take the lead. Dion's mission is to provide the tools that will enable the young to learn the skills they need and start to build this continent of wonderfully diverse, people, cultures and nations into the global powerhouse it should be – a centre for global growth.


Specialist Advisors

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Nick Nalder - Strategic Innovation

Nick is a strategic innovator who has spent the last 15 years in informal sector financial services, first as a core member of Standard Bank’s Innovation & Foresight group and then as an independent consultant, working with organisations such as Blue Label and Ellerines. After graduating from Cambridge and joining Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) in London, Nick specialised in e-Commerce Strategy. He moved to South Africa in 1997. Nick is currently focused on setting up low-value payments infrastructure based around instant, prepaid transactions that provide a unique new way to manage cash. His Prepaid Commerce (‘P-Commerce’) platform transforms the economics of low-value transactions, changing the game for organisations that deal with ‘bottom of pyramid’ markets.

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Mathew Ponde - Organisation and Transformation

Mathew is a leader who thrives on setting up and transforming organizations leveraging his twenty years’ experience in the Mobile Network and Internet Access and Service Provision Space; he is a recent Chief Operations Officer of GloCell Service Provider as well being a strategic advisor to the City of Johannesburg on taking over Johannesburg Broadband Network and consulting to Internet Solutions to structure their

new SME Segment after acquisition of Mweb Business. He has led implementation, stabilisation and operationalization of wholesale billing and provisioning solution for MTN SA and worked as an independent consultant at MTN SA driving strategic projects for MTN’s. Mathew has a Masters degree in Business Leadership and a BSc degree in Computer Science and Statistics. He was a part time lecturer for IT/Telecommunications Strategy for the MBL programme at the School of Business Leadership – UNISA for 4 years (2001-4) and Potchefstroom University for 2 years.

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Douglas Reed - Business Growth

Doug Reed is an entrepreneur and business leader with over thirty five years entrepreneurial business experience, twenty two years of which has been in the telecoms industry as the Founder and CEO of Data Pro which later became Vox Telecom Limited. Doug took Vox through its listing process on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and subsequent establishment as the leading alternate telco in SA. Doug is also a Founding Member of UBU, a community focussed Crypto Currency and currently does research and due diligence, and the acquisition of businesses for a major telecoms operator in South Africa as well as consulting to the telecoms industry. His primary business goal is to do what he loves best and that is to get involved and help grow companies beyond their resource constraints. 

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Chris Young - Start-up and Innovation

Chris is a Tech startup enthusiast and innovation investor, co-founder of Taproot Technologies and the mobile application GeoCrown. Chris is an achiever and passed both the Initial Test of Competence (ITC - Board exam 1) and Assessment of Professional Competence (APC - Board exam 2) on first attempt. After successfully completing his audit articles with a top four audit firm, Chris decided to take a leap of faith in the direction of one of his deep passions in technology. Breaking into an industry of which he had little knowledge or experience was an experience that he took to fondly, spending a lot of school fees and learning how valuable 'failing' can be in one's pursuit of success. Chris’ experience in the App development sector, as well as launching his own App gives him a unique insight to how customer facing technology can be applied to the economic development of Africa’s micro and SME market.

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Dr Marcelo de Andrade - Finance and Innovation

Dr. de Andrade has over 35 years’ experience advising the forestry, energy, mining, oil/gas, hydro-electric and large infrastructure sectors on sustainable development. Some of the most recognised and awarded cases worldwide are Camisea (Shell) in Peru and Akassa (Statoil, Shell and 9 other main oil companies) in the Niger Delta, Nigeria.

Dr. de Andrade served for several years as a member of the BHP Billiton Forum for Corporate Responsibility, directly advising the Board, CEO and top executives on improving sustainability of all its operations worldwide and has been personally involved in field operations in Colombia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, and Brazil (in South America), as well as in several countries in Africa (Nigeria, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Senegal, etc.) and Asia (Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Australia, China, Kazakhstan, etc.) with BHP Billiton and other similar companies.

Dr. de Andrade served in a similar capacity for over two decades at Shell and for a decade at DuPont’s World Wide Biotech Panel and Procter & Gamble’s Sustainability Council advising the Board, CEO and top executives on all sustainability issues of all of the company’s operations worldwide.
Founded Social Capital Group one of the most active companies advising the energy and extractive industry sector in the Andean region (he is no longer a shareholder). He has been personally involved advising the Government of Peru on creating the "voluntary contribution" a % of pre-tax profits to be invested in Sustainability of the areas of influence of the mining operations.

Dr de Andrade is also the founder of Pro-Natura, a regional development agency in 1985, co-founder of the Terra Capital Fund, a biodiversity investment fund in 1994, co-founder of Earth Capital Partners, a private equity investor focusing on sustainability finance in 2008, and in 2018 co-created the Global Green Investment Bank.

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Gary Staunton - Infrastructure and Engineering

Gary is an experienced Sub Saharan Africa telecoms and renewable power infrastructure specialists having led the Likusasa Group, a respected engineering and construction company, since 2012. Gary has over 30 years’ experience in engineering/construction and maintenance/shutdowns projects/services in offshore and onshore oil & gas, beverage, pulp & paper, metals & mining, water, renewables, power and telecoms/ICT sectors. He brings extensive on-the-ground operational experience to the team having held positions of project/contract manager, operations manager, business development manager, general manager and group CEO with P&L responsibility, business/organisational development, and operational/capability improvement. He has a broad technical knowledge of CSA, MEP and process/utility disciplines. Gary is a qualified engineer with a BSc (Hons) Mechanical Engineering, C.Eng, M.I.Mech.E. and a MBA.


Commercial Partners


Xona Partners

Trusted partners to technology and business leaders: Xona Partners is a boutique advisory firm specialised in Telecom, Media and Technology (TMT). We provide pre-investment due diligence, post-investment business lifecycle management and strategic technical advisory services to investors, technology companies and other domain players. We partner with C-level clients worldwide to solve hard strategic problems using an integrative approach that leverages the full scope of our broad and expert knowledge-base in TMT.



digitalthings Is a focused advisory services provider, specializing in digital infrastructure, cloud and internet of things solutions, broadband networks and services. The digitalthings team offers a unique blend of strategy, commercial, technical and operational expertise and is led by Bora Varliyagci . Bora has over 18 years’ international experience in the telecommunications industry and emerging markets and lived and worked in more than 30 countries including Turkey, Philippines, Indonesia, India, France, Austria, Nigeria, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa. Bora’s understanding of African telecommunications market and extensive yet not traditional background in management consultancy, strategy, sales & business development and project management, combined with his international experience makes him and his team unique in the industry. Bora’s team at digitalthings have experience in both public and private sectors with investment, strategy, business management, regulation, operational and technical backgrounds. Digitalthings assists with development of feasible projects and sustainable business models, while turning strategies into success and safeguarding investments.


Ixio Analytics

Data analysis - we do it differently. At Ixio, we take a business-led and science-driven approach to data. Problems are solved using the full weight of advanced statistical programming ecosystems, like R. We believe that R (and other appropriate) programming languages are far more powerful tools than pre-programmed toolsets, as they allow our data scientists to drill far deeper into complex problems than is possible with commercial packaged solutions.

We have a science-led solution approach. Our data team can bring to bear numerous different tools to the challenge of excavating insight from complex data. These include statistics, machine learning, unstructured and NoSQL data mining, pattern recognition, iterative solution engines, and heuristic techniques. This multi-faceted toolset, enabled by agile code development, far outstrips the capabilities of packaged software.

We are not afraid. Our data team revels in complexity, thrives on challenge, does not fear data quantity, dirty data, poor classification or opaque relationships. We will find novel correlations and ultimately expose actionable insights that are hidden from your competitors - and from yourselves.



Aggregated Wi-Fi access. Enjoy premium access to the internet through a network of thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots, located in popular public areas such as shopping malls, airports, restaurants, hotels and clinics. All you need is a cost-effective SIMUKA Pass.
With a SIMUKA Pass, you don’t pay for usage, you pay for time, as you’re only charged for the length of your visit, and not according to the amount of data you consume.



GeoCrown is a competitive Social Media. Users battle it out for the highest votes at various locations in order to win global exposure, social influence and followers. It’s never been this easy, you do what you’ve always done but you get what you’ve always deserved.