Vodacom Tanzania extends cloud partnership with Optiva

Optiva Inc., an innovative software provider of mission-critical, cloud-native, monetization solutions to leading communication service providers (CSPs) globally,has announced that Vodacom Tanzania has expanded its partnership with Optiva for utilization of Optiva Charging Engine™ and Policy Control (PCRF).

The multiyear agreement enables Vodacom Tanzania to upgrade its current platform and support and take another step toward leveraging Optiva’s innovative cloud-native BSS architecture.

As the leading CSP in Tanzania serving over 12.4 million customers, Vodacom Tanzania differentiates itself with the best quality, coverage and superior customer experience. They have been utilizing Optiva solutions for more than 10 years to help them successfully remain ahead of their competition.

This expansion and upgrade allow them to quickly launch new, flexible and personalized products and services engineered to capture additional market share and deliver enhanced customer experiences.

The partnership with Optiva aligns with Vodacom Tanzania’s past success and revenue growth from the launch of innovative campaigns, promotions and digital services that have fulfilled market demand and countered cost-driven market disruption.

Hisham Hendi, CEO of Vodacom Tanzania said: “Optiva and Vodacom Tanzania have been long-standing partners, and this agreement further strengthens our ties. Optiva’s solutions, with the leading cloud-native architecture, and our close working collaboration allow us to capture the market opportunities faster and stay ahead of our competition.”

Danielle Royston, CEO of Optiva said:“We are thankful for our continued partnership with Vodacom Tanzania and their trust in us to extend our relationship long-term. By working closely with our customers to understand their business, our focus on Customer Success helps them to grow their subscriber base and win in their markets. Add the game-changing advantage of moving to the cloud with its promise of 80% lower total cost of ownership, and it’s a winning combination.”

www.vodacom.co.tz

www.optiva.com

afriQloud – Time for more African businesses to move to the cloud

The African cloud has arrived. Yesterday, afriQloud went live in Uganda, with plans to launch in 15  additional African countries in 2020. 

afriQloud will provide, at internationally competitive rates, local and foreign customers with an innovative and secure distributed edge cloud service.  It is a product of pan-African connectivity provider, BringCom, science and technology investor, Imprimatur Capital, and European edge cloud software company GIG Technology.

afriQloud comes at a time when African businesses are making massive investments in things like machine learning and artificial intelligence tools and are using cloud and virtualized infrastructure to enhance service delivery. Large retail firms are using compute capabilities and AWS databases to transform how they reach a predominantly mobile and digital customer base. And scores of African cloud-native startups are leveraging the cloud to disrupt entire industry sectors.

The cloud services sector in the continent might be in its early stages of development, the impact of cloud services is already far-reaching. 

Why is afriQloud important?

Well, as I mentioned earlier African businesses and organisations are making massive investments in cloud services. In fact, for African markets, cloud, virtualization and the broader evolution towards serverless computing are the most disruptive technology developments since the advent of the mobile payment revolution. 

Hans van Linschoten, founding partner of Imprimatur Capital Africa and CEO of afriQloud said in a statement yesterday  “We see significant potential in the growing African cloud market where an estimated $2 billion is being spent in cloud this year’’

Most of Africa’s content on the internet is however hosted on servers outside the continent. afriQloud is bringing those servers to Africa and African businesses need to take advantage of this. Businesses will now be able to access virtual IT technology and infrastructure; streamlined software and applications; and efficient backups and disaster recovery systems. Cloud technology provides access to software that ultimately reduces costs on so many levels, and can be customised to best suit the relevant business, it is the perfect solution for SMEs in Africa to ensure they remain competitive in the global market.

Opening up of the global market according to Fabrice Langreney, CEO of BringCom will require African companies and organizations to be equally competitive in the deployment of e-solutions, scalability, secure data accessibility and connectivity in line with international standards. This will also help them to design their own map to cloud success. By doing so, African businesses have almost limitless paths and roadways that they can draw – and reshape – to help drive their business growth.

Remember the solution for Africa’s challenges will come from within Africa. Technology is the same all over the world; the difference lies in building solutions that answer and address local socio-economic challenges. With afriQloud, companies in Africa can now emerge from a situation where they have had more rudimentary applications and business processes to where they have unleashed the power of cloud technologies which makes it easier and far more efficient to automate services.

‘’…..and we’re excited to bring this service to the continent. By the end of 2019, we will complement the few developed markets clouds with a powerful and local distributed cloud in at least 15 countries. This ensures data sovereignty for institutions and governments within Africa’s shores.”  Hans van Linschoten concluded. 


www.afriqloud.com

Liquid Telecom, Microsoft host first cloud conference in Mauritius

Pan African telecoms group Liquid Telecom, is hosting the “first of its kind” cloud conference in Mauritius on Thursday 27 June 2019.

The conference, taking place at Hilton Mauritius Resort and Spa is being organised in partnership with Microsoft to help local businesses improve their understanding and use of cloud services to improve productivity and growth, whilst reducing costs and improving efficiencies. Places are limited to one hundred attendees.

Azure Accelerator is a unique cloud learning platform that provides business and IT leaders with the opportunity to engage one-on-one with Liquid Telecom and Microsoft cloud experts. The conference takes attendees on a journey of discovery, covering topics like cloud fundamentals, digital transformation, business continuity, security and compliance and will explore the manage IT resources in the cloud.

“Our events our popular with local business and feedback is extremely positive”, said Yemurai Mombershora, Group Product Manager for Liquid Telecom based in Zimbabwe. “By having a local presence in all the markets we operate in we are able to connect personally with our customers- demystifying the cloud by unpacking complex topics into a language that they understand and appreciate.”

During the conference, LSL Digital, part of La Sentinelle Ltd, a leading Media group in Mauritius, and IOS Indian Ocean Software, a customer-specific software solutions provider will illustrate how their adoption of cloud tools and resources has vastly improved operations – providing their businesses with flexible and scalable solutions to compete more effectively.

“With the launch of the Microsoft Datacentres in South Africa in March this year, local businesses can connect and leverage world-class IT infrastructure and leading-edge technology much closer to home. What this means in business terms is a huge improvement to latency and the ability to start or accelerate their business growth on an international platform,” said Winston Ritson, Group Head of Cloud Services at Liquid Telecom.

www.liquidtelecom.com

www.microsoft.com

afriQloud launches in Uganda, 15 African countries to follow in next year

Leapfrogging Africa’s innovation agenda with local cloud solutions

Pan-African connectivity provider, BringCom, in partnership with science and technology investor, Imprimatur Capital, and European edge cloud software company, GIG Technology, have together birthed what is to provide the African technology industry with cloud sovereignty – afriQloud.

Today launched in Uganda, afriQloud will provide, at internationally competitive rates, local and foreign customers with an innovative and secure distributed edge cloud service.

Hans van Linschoten, founding partner of Imprimatur Capital Africa and CEO of afriQloud: “We see significant potential in the growing African cloud market where an estimated $2 billion is being spent in cloud this year, and we’re excited to bring this service to the continent. By the end of 2019 we will complement the few developed markets clouds with a powerful and local distributed cloud in at least 15 countries. This ensures data sovereignty for institutions and governments within Africa’s shores.”

Most of Africa’s content on the internet is currently hosted on servers outside the continent. Implementation of edge cloud computing services in Africa has been adversely affected by lack of reliable and secure connectivity from various service providers. The cost of setting up ICT infrastructure with improved data latency and minimized downtime has also contributed to the slow adoption of cloud solution across the continent.

Mark Simmonds, Chairman of GIG Technology: ”Although cloud adoption is predominantly private, the African markets are generating a growth of 30% in public cloud sales. Few other ICT market segments in the African tech ecosystem have the potential of adding an incremental $2 billion in top line revenue over the next 5 years.”

Fabrice Langreney, CEO of BringCom: “Opening up of the global market will require African companies and organizations to be equally competitive in deployment of e-solutions, scalability, secure data accessibility and connectivity in line with international standards.”

afriQloud is also building bridges to the African incubators and tech hubs. More than 440 tech hubs are available today and more funding is being raised by tech startups across the African continent. The aim of afriQloud is to have the Edge Cloud installed in cities and tech hub ecosystems which hosts a high number of startups and developers. Now present and operational in Uganda, afriQloud will be spreading its services further into the different regions of Africa this year.

Willem Hendrickx, CEO of GIG Technology: “We believe in partnerships and the creation of local economy using our cloud technology. Having assessed the cloud readiness of different African markets, we are thrilled to launch in Kampala.”

Hans van Linschoten: “We have hit the ground and we intend to keep up the pace. This service in Africa is long overdue. In a few months, we will expand our service in East Africa – Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia will be afriQloud active very soon. We are working through channels in Southern Africa as well – Zambia, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique are our next target markets. And of course the West African region is good and ripe for the plucking. Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Cameroon – we’ll be present in all these countries this year! We’re very much looking forward to working with tech startups, MNOs, ISPs, government institutions, banks and financial institutions, universities – there is much to be done, and the time to begin is now.”

About afriQloud

afriQloud is a partnership of several selected hi-tech companies (mainly telco and Internet) with the aim of bringing their technology to emerging markets, Africa in particular. afriQloud has incorporated a subsidiary in Uganda – afriQloud Uganda Limited – from where it has started to build a business which is to expand throughout a minimum of 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.www.afriqloud.com

About BringCom

BringCom Incorporated, headquartered in Sterling, VA, USA has built Pan-African Ethernet and MPLS networks with its own regional hubs (PoPs) in Los Angeles, Washington DC, London, Djibouti, Nairobi, Kampala and Lagos. BringCom has been offering international and last-mile connectivity solutions since 1992 to enterprises and government customers in the United States, Africa and the Middle East. It delivers secure and reliable Ethernet, MPLS, IPLC and DIA services for enterprise WAN and SD-WAN connectivity.

www.bringcom.com

About GIG Technology

GIG is a high-growth European software company developing and employing a fully-automated edge cloud for companies looking to effectively scale their digital infrastructure at the Edge. GIG’s vision is to build the most distributed edge cloud where any applications can freely move as close as possible to the user, enabling industries to realize a true digital transformation.

www.gig.tech

About Imprimatur Capital

Imprimatur Capital is an international boutique science and technology investor. Imprimatur Capital specializes in medium and long term intellectual property (IP) opportunities, emerging from a unique international network, including leading universities and research institutions. Established in 2003 and headquartered in London, Imprimatur Capital is a direct investor and a UK FCA regulated fund management company. Imprimatur Capital collaborates and partners internationally with experienced investment, finance and technology professionals, including high-net-worth and institutional shareholders, to deliver a return on investment.

www.imprimaturcapital.com

Ooredoo Algeria deploys Nokia Cloud Mobile Gateway to transform its network for next-generation broadband services

This is a crucial step for the migration of core network elements to the cloud and paves the way for the transformation of the core network to support next generation mobile network technology.

Nokia is helping Ooredoo Algeria take the first step towards next-generation networks and reinforce its technology leadership in the region with the successful deployment of North Africa’s first virtualized Mobile Gateway. This is a crucial step for the migration of core network elements to the cloud and paves the way for the transformation of the core network to support next generation mobile network technology.

The deployment allows Ooredoo Algeria to meet growing data demand in the region, and provide new and innovative services like Internet of Things (IoT), in addition to enhanced broadband to its subscribers. Once deployed, Ooredoo Algeria’s subscribers will be able to enjoy high bandwidth-consuming services, delivering the best possible performance and reliability.

Nokia’s Cloud Mobile Gateway has been installed and placed into commercial service. Nokia will be deploying more gateways in the near future.

Next Generation Core (NGC) is a service-based architecture that calls for the evolution of the core network. Deployment of the Cloud Mobile Gateway is one of the most important steps in this transformation. It will help Ooredoo Algeria deliver a seamless network experience across fixed and wireless access technologies. With the help of the Nokia AirFrame data center solution, Ooredoo Algeria will be able to deliver telco applications that demand low latency.

 “Collaboration with Nokia for this initiative will help us in transforming our networks for next generation mobile broadband services and reinforcing our technology leadership. Nokia’s field-proven, end-to-end solution will enable us to enhance packet core capacity and to start the process of cloudification for telco applications. With this solution, we will be able to support more users, devices and services over wireless and fixed access. We are proud to continue our pioneering technology deployments with the implementation of this first virtualized network application in North Africa. We look forward to working with Nokia for future projects as well.” Mr. Abdullatif Hamad Dafallah, Chief Executive Officer at Ooredoo Algeria, said.

 Pierre Chaume, Head of the North and West Africa Market Unit at Nokia, added that “The consumption of data is increasing across the world and telcos are grappling with ever-increasing demand for capacity. The deployment of the Cloud Mobile Gateway will help Ooredoo Algeria in the evolution of the core network to enable its customers to enjoy high-bandwidth services, delivered with the highest possible performance and reliability.”

www.nokia.com

www.ooredoo.dz

[South Africa] Birst 7 brings centralized and decentralized analytics to the enterprise

The Birst 7 software release is generally available (GA) now, as both a cloud-based offering and as an on-premise virtual appliance

Birst, an Infor company and a leader in Cloud Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics for the Enterprise, recently announced Birst 7, a major new software release that brings centralised and decentralised analytics to the enterprise, in a single platform. The new release empowers enterprises to deliver trusted, governed insights, across the organisation, balancing freedom and control, through a modern, consumer-grade user interface designed for scalability and speed.  

“Birst 7 provides an entirely new data modeling experience that extends Birst’s patented data warehouse automation technology and a completely re-imagined administration module for managing centralised and decentralised deployments, including new auditing features and more granular user management capabilities,” confirms Mark Bannerman, Managing Director at EOH Infor Services, Infor’s Master Partner in Africa, operating as a Gold Partner.

“This enables enterprise organisations to democratise data modeling while still maintaining centralised compliance and governance. Key capabilities include enterprise data modeling and self-service data preparation in a unified, easy-to-use interface, enterprise administration with advanced data orchestration, and Birst Smart Analytics.”  

Birst Smart Analytics is a new set of AI-enabled capabilities that elevate organisations above traditional reports and dashboards, using machine learning algorithms to power intelligent insights not previously available to business users.

The Birst 7 software release is generally available (GA) now, as both a cloud-based offering and as an on-premise virtual appliance. The virtual appliance offers the exact same rich capabilities, upgrade path and level of support as the enterprise cloud version, so enterprises can move from one deployment model to another to meet their strategic and operational goals.

“With fourteen different ERP and reporting instances distributed globally, one consistent definition of revenue was challenging to calculate, especially when using different currency rates,” said Marcus Williams, Business Intelligence Developer at Carlisle Fluid Technologies, a global company that manufactures equipment for the supply and application of paints, coatings and sprayed materials. “We have been successfully using Birst over the last three years to move users to a central BI system across regions, while also giving our business units the freedom and agility to do their own analysis to better track information across finance, sales, and supply chain.”

“We can now maintain a single version of revenue and continually build out trusted KPIs, based on Birst’s unique Value Based Design methodology,” Williams said. “We are excited about Birst 7 because our growing deployment will greatly benefit from productivity gains using a new, modern interface to onboard new developers and manage more complex workflows for data integration and loading, as well as granular user/role management and auditing.”

Organisations are currently challenged to manage governed enterprise analytics from a centralised administration team, while still empowering local, self-service customisation from a globally distributed, decentralised analytics team.

Birst 7 enables organisations to create enterprise-wide, trusted Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and complex enterprise data models, and, at the same time, it allows decentralised teams to extend analytics with their own data, in a way that is easy to use, scalable and repeatable. In addition, control of centrally managed data assets can be shared with decentralised teams, without the need to replicate or duplicate data, ensuring continuity and trust.

“We’re focused on making everyone from enterprise administrators, to data modelers, to business users, more productive and on driving actionable analytics out to the edge of the enterprise,” said Bhargav Addala, Birst Vice President of Product Management. “We’re empowering global organisations to deliver trusted, governed metrics to decentralised analytics teams, which can extend and enrich the ‘shared version of the truth’ semantic layer, using self-service data preparation built specifically for the needs of the business. All of this is delivered through a unified, easy-to-use, modern interface providing every analytics consumer and creator the tools they need to tackle any analytics use case.”

www.birst.com

[Column] Doug Woolley: How to save cloud from complexity

Ten years ago, business technologies had saturated to breaking point. The potential they offered were diminished by their deployment and maintenance costs.

 Then virtualisation, cloud and similar technologies emerged to offer new capacities and optimisation. Companies were able to vastly simplify their technology stacks, as is evident by even large enterprises moving wholesale to service-centric models where you own less and get more.

But that pendulum was going to change direction eventually. The arrival of the cloud world wasn’t just about creating efficiencies.

 It introduced radical new ways of creating applications and deploying services. The initial gains in terms of efficiency were just the start – once the cloud engine started firing on more cylinders, its true potential came to light.

Artificial intelligence, real-time data, IoT infrastructure and other cutting edge services became widely feasible and affordable.

The modern technology era is powerful because of its modularity, but this creates a new type of complexity headache.

Several reports have highlighted concerns among modern CIOs that complexity is getting out of hand again.

One study found that a single web transaction used to interact with around 22 technology systems a few years ago, whereas today the number is more than 35. That’s a 59 percent increase in complexity.

The major bite is coming from managing multi-cloud environments. Today’s organisation is spoilt for choice. It can juggle hyperscale environments, co-location arrangements, private clouds, application containers and straight service pipes to create the best combination of technologies that enable its desires.

 But the simple beauty of grabbing an iPad for a performance dashboard belies the agile and complex relationships making that happen behind the scenes.

I can tell you that Dell EMC has been mulling this long before it became a clear challenge. Even before the successful merger that created Dell Technologies, we already pursued ways to better manage the complexity created by cloud environments.

 I don’t say this to advertise our services, but to point out that we never bought into a blue-skies view of cloud. The complexity was bound to return. If it isn’t contained and disciplined, then the promise of cloud would soon devolve into the familiar muck everyone’s trying to break free from.

We’re not alone: the market has been reaching this conclusion as well. A recent VMWare survey found that 83 percent of cloud adopters are seeking consistent infrastructure and operations from the data centre to the cloud.

In other words, they want as seamless an experience as possible between the various moving parts of their technology investments.

Digital maturity isn’t a single curve. It’s more akin to a radar chart, with different indicators spreading outwards to complete the picture.

 The ability to curtail multi-cloud complexity is increasingly a dominant indicator of digital proficiency. But the means to create that control will depend heavily on the partner of choice.

Reining in cloud isn’t just about a nice management suite. It has to cover a powerful integration of hardware, software, services and consumption options. It also can’t exist to try and cap your cloud capabilities for the sake of stability.

Cloud management has to remain dynamic to allow for the agility, accelerated innovation, improved economics and reduced risk that are the promises of the cloud era.

This requires a multidisciplinary approach that no single vendor can comprehensively provide. It needs a stable of different capabilities, such as virtualisation, infrastructure management and mature business thinking.

When a company wants to avoid or untangle the new complexities wrought by cloud, the solutions don’t lie in services but how rich the partner landscape is that provides the management services.

Multi-cloud environments are delivering both expected and unbelievable gains, often as smooth interactions for end-users. But the background complexity can diminish returns very quickly and erode digitisation gains. This is the technology conversation of the year and foreseeable future, so let’s start talking.

Doug Woolley is the General Manager of Dell Technologies South Africa

[Column] Nixon Kanali: Cloud, an essential component for every African business

Cloud computing has been in existence for almost two decades now helping businesses stay secure from cyber threats. The technology points to business efficiencies, cost benefits and holds a very competitive advantage.

Currently, a large portion of the African business community continues to operate in the cloud. In fact, according to a study by International Data Group, 69% of businesses around the globe are already using cloud technology in one capacity or another, and 18% say they plan to implement cloud-computing solutions at some point.

A previous report by Dell also revealed that companies that invest in big data, cloud, mobility and even security enjoy up to 53% revenue growth than their competitors.

The African cloud has arrived

Why therefore should businesses in Africa take cloud computing seriously? Well, Africa’s cloud and data centre ecosystem will soon become a land of serious opportunity. Bottom line, the African cloud has arrived and more African businesses need to take advantage of this.  The cloud services sector might still be in its early stages of development, but the impact is already far-reaching.

According to The “The Rise of the African Cloud: Azure, AWS, Vmware and the Battle to Transform African Enterprise Markets” report African banks for example are making investments in machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to improve the customer experience and credit risk; new “digital banks” are emerging, that are, at least in part, cloud-based. Governments are also using cloud and virtualized infrastructure to enhance public service delivery. Large retail firms are using compute capabilities and AWS databases to transform how they reach a predominantly mobile and digital customer base – and scores of African cloud-native startups are leveraging the cloud to disrupt entire industry sectors.

‘’The African cloud may be small, but it is already here indeed, and it is growing fast.’’ the report notes.

CEOs and CIOs in Africa should now have cloud at the centre of their digital transformation strategies if they want to stay in business. The ability to harvest, store and sort big data is a critical element of business competitiveness and according to a recent column by Avinash Ramtohul, the Managing Director, Mauritius and Cloud Architect Leader, Sub-Saharan Africa at Oracle published on African Business Communities, the higher the use of autonomous technologies, the more the competitive edge!

A recent report by Xalam Analytics predicted that top line annual cloud services revenue in Africa is set to double between now and 2023, and public cloud services revenue to triple in that time.

“Few other segments in the African ICT space are as likely to generate an incremental $2bn in top-line revenue over the next five years, and at least as much in adjacent enabling ecosystem revenue,” the report noted. “But the broader upside is unmistakable, and the battle for the African cloud is only beginning.”

Cloud computing leads to faster development and quicker learning within organisations, therefore accelerates innovation as it drastically removes costly overheads when it comes to maintenance and updates. It should, therefore, become an essential component of every African business transformation.

Nixon Kanali is the Tech Editor for the Africa Business Communities

SEACOM launches direct-to-corporate connectivity and cloud services in Uganda

Pan-African telecoms enabler SEACOM has further extended its corporate market offering into the East African region, under its SEACOM Business brand, by providing its Internet connectivity and cloud services directly to corporate customers in Uganda.

SEACOM has been a leading data connectivity provider in Uganda enabling access though the service provider segment.  It is now bolstering its presence in Kampala by expanding its enterprise reach and will now be able to provide corporate organisations in Uganda with reliable data connectivity and cloud services. SEACOM will provide a corporate-grade consistent service quality by leveraging SEACOM’s existing high-speed fiber-based network infrastructure that extends from Kampala onto its diverse subsea international backbone.

Speaking during the launch, SEACOM’s Managing Director for the Eastern North and East Africa region, Tonny Tugee, said the new development is part of the telecoms provider’s plan to strengthen its position as the regional connectivity provider with the ability to link businesses together within Africa and globally.

“We own and operate our core data backbone network end-to-end, enabling us to offer seamless and cost-effective solutions across the region. In addition, we have highly skilled experts here in Uganda with all the tools customers will need to scale up on the services that they may require now or in future,” said Mr. Tugee.

Since its launch in July 2009, SEACOM has steadily increased the availability of international bandwidth and now operates more than 1.2 Terabits of lit capacity on the SEACOM subsea cable system. SEACOM has risen to the forefront of providing hyper-scale data infrastructure, starting as a carrier’s carrier before diversifying to managed data network services and now cloud computing services. The company aims to leverage its existing high-speed fiber network infrastructure in Uganda that currently covers Kampala, Entebbe, Jinja, Mbarara and Gulu.

In addition to the services that are already being provided locally through local last-mile partners, SEACOM will be riding on its abundant and scalable capacity to deliver cloud services, dedicated, low latency transmission connectivity and VPN connectivity through international partner networks.

“Migration to Cloud Services will help our customers to improve business processes and significantly reduce costs. This, in addition to our redundant connectivity ring around the continent, will provide an ultimate ‘data home’ for your business,” explained Francis Ndegwa, SEACOM Senior Product Manager.

Recently, SEACOM partnered with Microsoft to launch a cloud service that allows customers to extend their on-premises networks into the cloud without going over the public internet. The service, dubbed Azure ExpressRoute, enables customers to create private connections between data centres and infrastructure on their premises or in a cloud environment.

The ExpressRoute partnership has already recorded success with a number of corporate customers such as M-KOPA – the world’s leading pay-as-you-go off-grid solar company, which is now able to deploy its IT technologies in a seamless and reliable manner to bring power to over 750,000 homes across East Africa.

SEACOM launched the first broadband submarine cable system along the East African coastline in 2009 linking South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique with several major hubs in Europe and Asia. The company has been pivotal in ICT infrastructure development in Africa through ensuring the provision of high-speed, reliable and secure connectivity to cloud services and other online tools across the continent. Today, SEACOM offers a redundant connectivity ring around Africa’s east and west coasts, optimal traffic routing, and resiliency through multiple tier-1 upstream partners in Europe and Asia. It also offers direct connectivity to African routes and content.

www.seacom.mu

[Column] Andrew Sordam: The huge opportunity for consolidation and cloud in Africa

It is only 100 days since I took up the post of VP for Africa at Oracle, but already it is clear why the continent is such a priority for the company, and why it is considered a land of opportunity in the tech space.

Consolidation of modernisation

Africa is seeing huge population growth, and a marked increase in consumer spending, resulting in a big demand for 24/7 service. The much-discussed leapfrogging effect, which we have seen in areas like power and telecommunications, has helped the continent develop at speed, but it has also placed huge demands on modern businesses.

Companies of various shapes and sizes are taking advantage of the newest tech to improve the way they do business, but a major, more recent trend is that many are now looking at the consolidation of this modernisation. These are companies that are growing very quickly, and they want seamless and complete integration between the front and back office.

This is happening across the board – major corporates, SMEs, financial services companies, those in retail, in financial services, for example, East and West African banks are beginning to merge, with such mergers requiring new strategies.

Adoption of technology is not just for the commercial sector, however. In the public sector, greater efficiencies are also being sought. Each government department used to have its own IT department, but that is now changing, and we are seeing convergence into one service centre. This is a big trend across the continent. The public sector, like the private sector, is looking for integrated technologies to help it become more effective and keep up with demand.

Vertical strategies

Herein lies the opportunity for a company like Oracle. We help private, public sector organisations develop and improve processes and more, and more we are looking at complete solutions.

The opportunity is massive in Africa in this regard. We see the impact of our organisation in every line of business. We are able to give customers choice to either go in with the entire stack – from apps, to infrastructure, to vertical solutions or multiple modular journeys to the cloud. In each instance, this is based on business needs and can be either private or public cloud. And that impact is set to be further scaled with our new approach on the continent.

Our CEO Mark Hurd spoke recently about our plans for leveraging our leading Software-as-a-service (SaaS) business to seize business-to-business (B2B) market share. Africa is no different to anywhere else in this regard, though we see a particular opportunity in increasing our cloud business here, and will focus on this more and more.

Oracle’s model encourages the adoption of cloud particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, giving businesses the benefit of flexibility. Because we invest so much in innovation, it is easy for customers to manage, and we embed more optimisation than anyone else. Apps and databases are embedded with artificial intelligence (AI), making our services easy to adopt – a major benefit. Our solutions can basically run your business, saving you money on human capital.

Yet where we truly stand out at Oracle is our cloud autonomous play. We have an advantage here, with the autonomous category being our own invention, and believe customers in Africa will adopt this technology and improve their businesses as a result.

The Oracle Autonomous Database, for example, completely reshapes our customer’s approach to IT, helping them free their budgets and resources to focus on business growth while reducing risk.

Using machine learning and AI-driven technology, our cloud services can be upgraded, optimised, secured, patched and tuned automatically, without human intervention. Easy management encourages adoption, which speeds business growth, vital to economic development in emerging economies such as those in Africa.

A full ecosystem

For all the exciting trends and opportunities I have spotted in my first 100 days, however, there are also a myriad of challenges.

At the heart of it all are skills. The tech may be there, but you still need the knowledge from within each industry and within each country to maintain a certain level of service. That is why Oracle does not just sell products but also invests in capacity. The growth of Africa as a business hub – and therefore the success of our business on the continent – depends on building a self-sustaining ecosystem.

That is why we focus on developing digital skills across the continent. Our open platform for developers works with local coding communities to build developer skills, while we also partner with development agencies, NGOs, NPOs, and educational institutions, among others, to address ICT skills shortages.

That is also why we look at accelerating startups and entrepreneurs, and building skill sets across many countries. We recently announced, for example, the Ghana-Oracle Digital Enterprise Programme, a collaborative effort that will support 500 technology-enabled startups and entrepreneurs across Ghana through access to Oracle Cloud technology, mentoring and workshops, and business-enablement and support resources. SMEs are the backbone of emerging market economies, and it is vital we support them.

We want to run initiatives like this in other countries too. Tech is key, but we feel knowledge needs to be nurtured as well.

A bright future

Oracle has been present in Africa for nearly three decades, but never before have we been as excited for the future here as we are now. This is demonstrated by the launch of our first Oracle Innovation Hub on the continent, located in South Africa, to help drive the implementation of emerging technologies across the country’s businesses, public sector and academia.

Andrew Sordam is the Vice President for sub-Saharan Africa at Oracle