Bold company Incentro credited for growth in Google Cloud adoption in Africa

DigiCloud Africa has credited Incentro Africa for its role in expanding Google Cloud in Africa and subsequently being recognised as the Google Cloud Expansion Partner of the Year – Europe, Middle East, and Africa. 

The annual award recognises one global partner in the region that has shown outstanding success in helping a large number of customers achieve better results through the Google Cloud Platform and Google Workspace. 

Incentro Africa (founded 2017), announced in 2020 that it had achieved the Work Transformation – Enterprise Partner Specialization in the Google Cloud Partner Specialization Program, becoming the first and only premier partner with this specialization in Africa. 

By earning the Partner Specialization, we proved our expertise and success in deploying Google Workspace to enterprise organizations, which includes providing services across all project work streams – such as technical implementation, change management, training and ongoing premium support.

Our continued collaboration with DigiCloud has yielded many successes with key clients such as Central Bank of West Africa (Google Workspace) , Textbook Center (SAP on Google Cloud) and Britam (Workspace).

“We are proud to have been credited by DigiCloud as one of their key partners in achieving this truly prestigious award – the first for an African organization no less.” said Dennis de Weerd, Sales Director, Incentro Africa. “Our continued partnership is truly a special one and look forward to many more shared successes.” he continued.

“Whilst the complete list of resellers would be too lengthy to mention, three companies were monumental in their efforts through 2020 to drive Google Cloud adoption in Africa, namely: Incentro Africa, for work in Kenya and Senegal specialising in workforce transformation, machine learning and infrastructure…” Gregory MacLennan, CEO, DigiCloud.

About Incentro

Incentro delivers innovative digital solutions, grounded by passion and happiness of employees, Incentronauts. 340 Incentronauts worldwide (The Netherlands, Spain, Kenya) are helping organizations to reach their digital goals.

Based on the maturity of clients, they setup an e-commerce environment which enables customers to deliver an awesome shopping journey and drive growth. They deliver a full range of services from strategy until conversion optimization for B2C and B2B focussed companies

Incentro Africa opened her door in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2017; The takeout on things was special: the company aimed for the delivery of fairtrade software solutions in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Our mission? To positively impact the lives of 10.000 Africans before the year 2022.

We continue to achieve this by bringing quality services and digital solutions to the (East) African market, supported by strong partnerships and growing local talent into product experts. We help organizations in developing their Cloud digital strategies in order to increase productivity and collaboration. We achieve this through our value propositions and expertise in enterprise collaboration, cloud migration, and developing smart applications.

Are you bold enough to step into the unknown? We are… and we dare you to do the same. We will be with you every step of the way. Not by making small changes but to truly do things differently – for a change!

With over 10 years of proven expertise in technical consultation and related services, Incentro, the only Google Premier Partner in East, West and Central Africa has become the go-to partner for successful business transformation in the continent.

From Enterprise Collaboration, Cloud Migration and Smart application development, we proudly serve over 26 countries in Africa and are growing. Whatever your ambition is, we’ll aim for maximum impact. We dive deep into your organization, challenge your plans, build solutions swiftly and make sure they work.

Please feel free to visit our website or send an email to Customer Success Manager Elizabeth Akinyi – liz@incentro.com.

www.incentro.com

www.digicloud.africa

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Cloud providers are fighting for a share of the growing Africa’s cloud market

From all the previous Africa Cloud Review articles we have published, we have been highlighting how the cloud market in Africa is growing. Cloud-based office applications have increasingly become vital components of the African modern workplace. 

As this market grows, it is generating a lot of interest and deals as cloud players and providers position themselves to take advantage of this boom.   

In May last year, African Data Centre Association (ADCA) predicted that 20 new data centre facilities will come online across Africa by the end of 2020. ADCA in a research paper noted that Africa had entered a phase of “accelerated growth” due to heightened demand for local hosting and cloud services, and that the continued development of carrier-neutral data centres will support the continent to “unleash its potential”.  By the end of that year, more players started setting up data centers across the continent. 

Africa’s data centre market is poised for massive growth this year as internet penetration rates rise and the continent begins to play catch-up with other regionsNina Triantis the Global Head of Telecoms, Media & Technology at Standard Bank, in a column we published here on  Africa Business Communities last week notes that we should expect to see a substantial wave of data centre investments materialise across the continent, led by regional economic powerhouses including South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. For the time being, Africa accounts for less than 1% of the world’s co-location data centre supply, with South Africa accounting for the bulk of the continent’s capacity. 

Last year,  South African data centre company Teraco commenced the construction of its new hyperscale data centre with 38 megawatts (MW) of critical power load. Last month, the company’s  ACE submarine cable went live and is available for interconnection at three of Teraco’s data centres across South Africa, expanding access to broadband connectivity and digital services in Africa. Spanning approximately 17,000 km along the West Coast of Africa, ACE lands in 19 countries before being backhauled by MTN South Africa, the landing partner, into Teraco’s data centre facilities.

These developments are important for Africa because cloud requires no on-premise storage or physical infrastructure that continuously needs to be updated. This lowers the total cost of ownership and IT maintenance costs in the long run, which is very useful for start-up companies with limited initial budgets. 

In the news

Last week, Zadara announced Africa’s largest network of interconnected, carrier-and cloud-neutral data center facilities, Africa Data Centres, and service provider Global Sense deployed Zadara’s edge cloud services to their marketplace. Zadara products and services are available in Midrand, South Africa with further expansion into all Africa Data Centre locations coming in the not too distant future.

Google also last week named Digicloud Africa the Google Cloud Expansion Partner of the Year for 2020 in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region. DigiCloud is one of several of the tech giant’s reseller enablement partners in the region. Others include Incetro Africa,  an IT service provider delivering custom-built cloud-based software solutions for the European and African market. 

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Cloud is playing a big part in the growth of African enterprises

In our last Africa Cloud Review, we highlighted how Africa needs more cloud skillsdue to the rapidly increasing number of organizations subscribing to integrated cloud services in recent years.

This has especially been accelerated by the pandemic. In fact, analysts predict more and more businesses will be moving to cloud as businesses and their employees worldwide continue to face tremendous challenges in maintaining business continuity.  

For small businesses, cloud usage has now become a necessity. In countries like Kenya, enterprises are set to increase their spend on cloud computing services by 68% in 2021, small businesses and start-ups will likely follow suit, embracing cloud uptake to accelerate digital transformation.

While the advantages offered by cloud services are extensive and differ according to each unique enterprise, Francis Wainaina is a Senior Product Manager at SEACOM East Africa notes that the underlying benefits are the same: strategic value and cost-savings, scalability and flexibility, and innovation and optimisation. 

’Cloud requires no on-premise storage or physical infrastructure that continuously needs to be updated, lowering the total cost of ownership and IT maintenance costs in the long run, which is very useful for start-up companies with limited initial budgets. ‘’

According to the “Africa in the Cloud 2020” study by World Wide Worx conducted among eight African countries, there has been an increased spend on cloud services. The big shift in spending is accredited to an increase in hyper scale data centres within the continent. Kenya for instance, increased its cloud spend by 38 percent with South Africa leading with an 82 percent increase in cloud uptake.

Francis Wainaina notes that the versatility and variety of cloud applications not only allow start-ups to innovate their operations cost-effectively but also to streamline processes, freeing time and resources for these companies to focus on what matters most. 

Last week, 4Sight Dynamics Africa, an indirect cloud solutions provider (CSP) that supports various Microsoft partners in Africa and the Middle East, announced regional support for the Software as a Service (SaaS) version of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. Nokia also signed a deal to deploy its comprehensive network technologies to Angola’s new mobile telecommunications operator, Africell. For the new network in the capital, Nokia will deploy its AirScale Single Radio Access Network (S-RAN) across up to 700 sites to support concurrently 2G, 3G and 4G services, and be 5G-ready. Nokia’s AirScale platform can be seamlessly upgraded to support 5G networks through a software update. In addition, the company will deploy Nokia AirFrame data center solution to run any cloud-based application with ease. 

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Africa needs more cloud skills

Africa needs more cloud computing skills. IT professionals in the region need to gain skills in cloud and data architecture due to the rapidly increasing number of organizations subscribing to integrated cloud services in recent years.

This has especially been accelerated by the pandemic. In fact, analysts predict more and more businesses will be moving to cloud as businesses and their employees worldwide continue to face tremendous challenges in maintaining business continuity. 

A recent Veeam Data Protection Report 2021 report also found that 96% of organizations around the world are accelerating cloud usage.

In May this year, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced that it will be bringing its re/Start cloud skills training program to Kenya and South Africa this month as part of its rapid expansion plans this year.  AWS re/Start is a free, full-time, 12-week program designed to support people who are unemployed or underemployed, and who have little technology experience, for careers in cloud computing. The program provides participants with new cloud computing skills, career, and resume coaching, and interviews with local employers. Last week the programme kicked off in South Africa in collaboration with Nedbank. 

With this programme, Nedbank is working with AWS re/Start to help learners gain job-specific skills, connect them with employers, and support them as they embark on cloud careers.

Cloud is an exciting industry to be in, with lots of areas of specialization, and more jobs being created each year.  IT News Africa journalist Luis Monzon notes that many companies in countries like South Africa are mature from an information technology (IT) perspective

‘’..but because the hunt for skills is so competitive, with far fewer available skills than there is demand for, often these companies just cannot find the people to build the complex infrastructures they need to take full advantage of cloud computing.’’  Developing such skills, especially for young people, presents an immense potential for the continent’s economic growth. 

In May this year, Google also announced it will be offering Android and cloud development scholarships to developers across  Africa. The tech giant said the new scholarships will be offered to beginner and intermediate developers residents in Africa. A total of 40,000 scholarships will be offered to developers spread across Mobile and Cloud development tracks and, at the end of the training, the top 1,000 students will earn a full scholarship to certify in Android or Cloud development.

This was a huge move considering that African businesses are discovering that platforms like Google Cloud are allowing agility and innovation faster and more affordably. Moving to Google Cloud can revolutionize a business in under a month. 

Bottom line, as we have mentioned in our previous Africa Cloud Review article, cloud is accelerating digital change across different industries and transforming the continent’s productive capacity. Investing in cloud skills should there be a top priority.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa.

Mauritius Commercial Bank to adopt MITECH’s TRAC Collateral Management system in the cloud

The Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd (MCB) is adopting MITECH’s system TRAC (Trade Risk Active Control) to support a continuous and significant growth in its Commodity Trade Finance (CTF) business.

TRAC is a Trade Risk and Collateral Management system supporting Structured Trade Commodity Finance. The TRAC solution handles not only Transactional Commodity Finance but Borrowing Base structures as well.

The TRAC software will be implemented on a Cloud infrastructure, with the aim of going-live with the system before the end of the year.

Michael Cohen Dumani, MITECH’s CEO commented that “this contract is a major milestone for MITECH as we are expanding our geographical footprint to support Africa’s intense Trade Finance growth as well as implementing TRAC seamlessly on a Cloud setup” adding that “MITECH is proud to welcome yet another prestigious reference in its community of users”.

Rajeshwar Pertab, Head of Middle-Office, MCB stated: “We are delighted to be partnering with MITECH and further bolster risk and collateral management within our Commodity Trade Finance business. MITECH’s expertise and TRAC’s extensive functionalities convinced us to adopt the solution and streamline information flow between our customers, front-office and middle-Office teams”.

www.mcb.mu

www.mitsa.ch

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: There’s an increasing demand for data centers in Africa

As internet penetration in African continues to increase, the demand for data centers is also booming. Customers in Africa are increasingly using data centers to access public cloud-based services from hosts like Google, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and others.

For the time being, Africa accounts for less than 1% of the world’s co-location data centre supply, with South Africa accounting for the bulk of the continent’s capacity. Co-location facilities rent space, power and cooling to enterprise and hyperscale customers; they also offer interconnection enabling businesses to scale at low complexity and cost.

Nina Triantis Global Head of Telecoms, Media & Technology at Standard Bank notes that we expect to see a substantial wave of data centre investments materialise across the continent, led by regional economic powerhouses including South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.  

In South Africa for example, Teraco’s regional interconnection hubs were  further enhanced by the addition of the Africa Coast to Europe Subsea Cable (ACE). The ACE submarine cable is now live and available for interconnection at three of Teraco’s data centres across South Africa, expanding access to broadband connectivity and digital services on the continent.

In February this year,  a new report from The African Data Centres Association (ADCA) and Xalam Analytic revealed that Africa needs 1000MW and 700 facilities to meet growing demand and bring the rest of the continent onto level terms with the capacity and density of South Africa,s claims. 

The reports notes that “At the onset of a new decade, it is increasingly acknowledged that Africa needs a lot more data center capacity than is currently available,”

 “The need for hosting capacity is largely structural; an outgrowth of a host of megatrends that are transforming the region’s economic and social fabric and are putting considerable pressure on existing infrastructure.” 

In 2020, the Africa data center market size by investment was valued at USD 2 billion in 2020 and is expected to USD 5 billion by 2026.  

These data centers are key to the continent achieving its digital potential. Jonathan Duncan, the Secure Power Director, Anglophone Africa at Schneider notes that data centers are the basis for digital transformation

‘’We’re going to need many more data centers everywhere across the continent to power economies, speed up connectivity and reduce the overall costs for server-hosted services,’’ he says in an op-ed published on iAfrikan.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Cloud is empowering African businesses with the certainty of a quicker time-to-value

The speed with which Africa’s business sector has changed over the past year has been nothing short of astonishing. Business leaders across the continent have had their hands full, from enabling remote work on a previously unprecedented scale to adapting to disruptions in the global supply chain, enabling e-learning for millions of youth – not to mention ensuring business continuity in the midst of a once-in-a-generation crisis.

At the foundation of this change is cloud, which gives organisations the ability to simplify and scale their systems landscape without sacrificing performance.

Cloud, according to Pedro Guerreiro is the Managing Director Central Africa at SAP Africa, empowers businesses with the certainty of a quicker time-to-value, without the upfront capital outlays required of on-premise deployments.

With cloud-enabled intelligent enterprise capabilities, organisations can achieve the speed needed to stay ahead of competitors and other disruptors while maintaining the certainty of measured, data-driven decision-making.

In Africa, cloud adoption has reached new heights, driven in part by the pandemic. Increase in cloud computing has also created an increased demand for cloud-related skills and we are currently in a cycle where the global demand for cloud skills outstrips the supply. 

Just last week, The African Telecommunications Union (ATU), a specialized agency of the African Union (AU) and China’s technology firm, Huawei signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to boost capacity for ICT transformation in the continent which includes providing cloud solutions.  AAR Insurance also  inked a deal with telecommunications provider Safaricom to migrate to the cloud. In South Africa, Vox, a market-leading end-to-end integrated ICT and infrastructure provider and telecoms company selected Minim Cloud Software to Deliver Its Next-Gen Home WiFi Experience.

Still, in South Africa, HPE announced that it has brought a new multi-cloud Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) data centre solution to the South African market. This powerful multi-cloud data centre model is all about leveraging the cloud to define the customer experience, while underpinned by HPE’s GreenLake platform.

This plus other cloud news updates from across Africa shows how IT leaders are going all-in on cloud. 

Incentro Africa, a cloud service provider which works exclusively with Google Cloud, most African businesses are moving to the cloud because it is more secure, scalable, and more affordable. Large enterprises unburden their IT department from maintaining infrastructure and enable them to contribute to business goals. For startups, it’s a cheap and convenient way to get started and use amazing technology that is only available on the Cloud.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa.

Bboxx selects Grow by SAP cloud to accelerate global access to clean energy

SAP SE has announced that Bboxx, a next generation clean energy and utility provider, has selected the Grow by SAP cloud offering to scale the business to meet its ambitious goal to solve energy poverty.

With 770 million people currently living without access to energy, Bboxx was founded in 2010 to end energy poverty. Bboxx manufactures, distributes and finances decentralised solar powered systems in developing countries.

Through affordable, reliable and clean energy provision, the company is positively impacting the lives of over 2 million people with its products and services.

 Bboxx is delivering its products and services to underserved customers in rural areas through its innovative technology Bboxx Pulse® which is Bboxx’s own state-of-the-art comprehensive management platform. Bboxx Pulse® enables the growth of next generation, global distributed utility businesses and enables them to manage scale as customers, employees and products are dispersed across remote locations.

This requires a strong accounting and supply chain backend, so Bboxx was looking for a cloud-based platform that would provide scalable market leading software and embedded best practice to help expand its footprint into new markets.

 Bboxx selected SAP Business ByDesign – Supply chain and Finance with Grow By SAP, an exclusive program for hypergrowth companies. Phase 1 of the project went live in Asia in May 2021. This is just the beginning, Phase 2 is due to go live in the UK, France and Rwanda in September 2021, and Phase 3 in DRC, Kenya, Togo and Nigeria in December 2021. During Phase 3 SAP Business ByDesign will integrate with Bboxx Pulse®. The SAP Business ByDesign implementation is being handled by business transformation and Grow by SAP partner Orchard House Solutions.

Using SAP ERP, finance and supply chain solutions, Bboxx will gain significant efficiencies through widespread automation of processes and using best practice principles embedded in SAP. Having a single cloud base instance for finance and supply chain will help Bboxx achieve a globally consistent process and still allow for local reporting needs.

Anthony Osijo, Group CFO at Bboxx, said: “Bboxx is currently operating in 10 countries, and we have bold ambitions to hit 23 countries within five years. We are positively impacting 1.8 million lives directly with the provision of clean, reliable, and affordable energy. We want to accelerate access to power in developing countries and continue to transform lives and unlocking potential through access to energy. Because of the scale of these targets, it’s vital to have a strategic global partner like SAP that is flexible and innovative enough to want to work with us on that journey.”

Romain Gauthier, Regional Vice President – New Customers EMEA North at SAP, said: “SAP was the right partner to support Bboxx’s bold mission to end energy poverty across the globe by providing a highly flexible and scalable single cloud infrastructure. Grow by SAP program has been specifically designed to support fast growth scaleups and startups and will provide Bboxx with advanced supply chain, finance and accounting, and customer service across three major continents, whilst also ensuring that it retains its competitive cost base. When it comes to helping businesses expand their footprint and grow into new markets, SAP is a true strategic partner.”

www.bboxx.com

www.sap.com

[Column] Andrew Cruise: Hybrid cloud and multicloud – is there a difference and does it matter?

Vendor neutral cloud infrastructure provider, Routed, says that the archetypal hybrid or multicloud concept has become needlessly complicated. Managing Director, Andrew Cruise, explains: “Ultimately no-one ever takes a pure route and even pure public cloud does not exist. So, let’s just call it cloud and understand that it covers a variety of scenarios.”

Cruise adds that while hybrid cloud is defined as a combination of public cloud and private cloud, and multicloud an extension of hybrid cloud into multiple public clouds, no enterprise deploys their infrastructure in such a linear or elegant fashion: corners are cut, and easy options are taken.

One clear trend emerging in the current environment is the difficulty of clear collaboration among cloud providers. “Providers of cloud platforms prefer to offer unique services specific to their platform where the end user experience is typically very different across said platforms. Where collaboration is possible it’s through open APIs, but this lowest common denominator outcome means only the most basic and standard functions and services are easy to port between platforms,” says Cruise.

In contrast, the VMWare Cloud approach combines the benefits of hyperscalers, plus local VMware Cloud verified operators, plus private cloud foundation deployments to give the enterprise a consistent experience.  “As much as developers try to standardise on one set of tools e.g. Kubernetes, each of the global powerhouses will attempt to offer extensions or integrations of their own to make their offering more attractive and ultimately more sticky,” says Cruise.

He adds that there is a definite need and place for more niche cloud platforms outside of the major hyperscalers because there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution from any global mega cloud provider. “Local operators will always be able to offer specific solutions to local requirements. Local cloud operators can often offer a more tailored experience to smaller and medium sized enterprises than is possible when dealing with a faceless global public cloud corporation.”

Rather than erroneously imagining that multicloud is achieved simply by using Office365 and running your website on AWS, Cruise says it should be seen as connecting privately between owned infrastructure (which might be on VMware), hyperscalers like AWS / Azure / GCP and/or other local cloud operators. “Initially the strategy may be to share data, but the goal is to facilitate the seamless migration of applications, either VM or container based, to the platform which is most suitable for the application at the time.”

Andrew Cruise is the managing director at Routed.

[Cloud] Phil Lewis: Ensuring Confidence with Cloud-based Warehouse Management

When companies rely on a dated warehouse management system (WMS) to run distribution centers, it’s not uncommon for the IT staff familiar with the system to move on. Unfortunately, this leaves the company without an in-house expert to manage issues as they arise. Added to this, if the original vendor is no longer supporting that version of the system, it can be incredibly difficult to get the system back up and running.

“Over time, each organisation builds the distribution ecosystem that uniquely addresses its needs. The challenge emerges when only a handful of people understand how to manage and maintain that system successfully and perhaps only one individual truly understands the complete picture,” says Phil Lewis, Infor’s VP of Solution Consulting EMEA. “With a mission critical WMS and corresponding data at the very core of the business, any scenario that puts it at risk can be detrimental to getting products out the door.”

For many organisations, the realisation that the “go-to” people who fully understand all the nuances in the business’ operations – and the systems that support them – are no longer there, comes too late. Whether this loss comes through resignation, retirement, health issues, or merger and acquisition, finding replacements when running a legacy on-premise WMS can become an exceedingly difficult task. How can organisations ensure the continuity of day-to-day operations with the potential loss of technical expertise?

One of the ways to mitigate this risk is to accelerate cloud migration. By shifting the WMS to the cloud, organisations are supported by a comprehensive solution that is continuously updated. This guards against new trends forcing upgrades to the system down the road. “A trusted cloud partner should have a substantial investment in IT personnel that would be difficult for some of the largest organisations to match. A small army is dedicated to monitoring the organisation’s WMS and its data to ensure both optimisation and protection,” adds Lewis.

A recent CIO tech priorities survey by IDG showed that “despite increased budgets and interest in new technologies that can positively impact business in the future, organisations still face familiar challenges to adoption. The top challenges that IT leaders encounter are lack of sufficient budget (48%), lack of staff (46%), and lack of skill sets (42%).” 

It’s time to shift the responsibility of managing and maintaining the organisation’s WMS over to a cloud provider with modern capabilities. “With this approach, organisations will not only create an opportunity to reset expectations and priorities for their IT staff, but also ensure their WMS always has the support it needs to stay up and running so that customers receive their orders on-time and in-full,” concludes Lewis. 

Phil Lewis is the Vice President Solution Consulting for Infor EMEA.