An unshakeable and tenacious ‘can do’ attitude and determination
Barney Harmse was born in Mafikeng in South Africa in 1970 and his family moved to Namibia when he was just four years old. From humble beginnings, his education began at the small primary school of Grünau in the south of Namibia, where there were only two classrooms in the entire school. After moving to Windhoek to finish school and becoming an amateur wrestling champion, Harmse is now the CEO of the Paratus Group, a quality network provider in Africa and a company delivering services to businesses across the continent.
Harmse matriculated in 1988 and went straight into computer programming, which set the scene for his future vision. He first worked in coding and then cabling and networks from the early 90s before he moved on to designing and building the highways for communication, which he takes immense pride in and is absolutely passionate about.
Together with his co-founders, also his friends, and with an unshakeable and tenacious ‘can do’ attitude and determination, they started ITN in Namibia in 2005. In 2014, the company was renamed and relaunched as Paratus.
Harmse’s ability to tough it out is evidenced by the fact that he was a wrestling champion. He said: “I love a challenge and to be competitive and if you are on top of your game, you are always the winner. I think this motto has helped me stay focused and to manage and grow the company. Nothing is impossible if you are self-motivated, believe in yourself and in what you do”.
He has helped to hand-pick all his colleagues and believes that by finding the right people who share his vision and passion to grow Africa’s quality network, Paratus can accomplish anything. The milestones under Harmse’s guidance include being the first telecoms operator to twice bridge the African continent: First linking the east and west coast of Africa and second linking Maputo in Mozambique to the same network; the building of the Trans Kalahari Fibre Network which links Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa; establishing a multitude of satellite earth stations and connecting thousands of VSAT terminals across Africa; multiple data centres in the region; and one of the current projects, which is building the cable landing station for the Equiano subsea cable that will terminate in Swakopmund.
An early start typifies Harmse’s working days when he can often be found brainstorming with his colleagues on how to constantly improve network services for Paratus’s customers.
“Watch this space because we are currently looking at some serious disruptive and diversified projects which will change the face of the industry and make Paratus even more mainstream.”
Harmse splits his leisure time between being in the Namib desert with his family and, when he has time, flying. He has had a private pilot’s licence since 2008. Paratus has other licensed pilots within its staff complement and is the only telecoms provider that can fly to almost any remote site to do maintenance at short notice.
He feels blessed and loves life and his inspiration comes from the daily compliments received from Paratus customers on the quality service. Harmse’s driving ambition is to look at new ways of expanding the business and delivering unlimited quality network services to people across the African continent.
10 facts about Barney Harmse
He is a disruptor, a leader and an achiever.
He’s a great visionary
He has always had a vision of making Paratus Africa’s quality network provider.
He is a lateral thinker as well as a big thinker.
He is a conqueror.
He inspires, motivates and unites his colleagues in the spirit of shared ambition and drive.
Loves his team.
He is charming, dynamic, demanding and a force of positive energy.
He is generous and forgiving, all embracing and ‘larger than life’.
He is straight-talking, loves a good laugh (wants to laugh every day) and wants to make everyone happy.