East African SMEs accelerate their growth with cloud deployments

SMEs in the East African region are using digital transformation initiatives to increase their competitiveness and ensure they are set for growth despite challenging trading conditions.

According to Pedro Guerreiro, Managing Director: Central Africa at SAP, investments into new technologies will greatly assist SMEs in the region as they adapt to a very different operating environment. “As one of the most important drivers for job creation and economic growth, the SME sector is vital to the region’s economic recovery. Technology will continue to play a determining role in how well the sector recovers from this year’s events, while also digitally-tooling organisations to out-perform their competitors in this new economy and enabling them to execute the business, operate, and thrive in the market.”

In 2017, SMEs accounted for 98% of all businesses in Kenya and created 30% of all jobs annually. According to the International Trade Centre, SMEs contributed 34% of Kenya’s GDP in 2016. However, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic should not be underestimated: a recent Deloitte study found a 50% reduction in household and business spending, with direct consequences for the country’s SME sector.

After choosing SAP Business One and working with SAP implementation partner ACEteK, Mzuri Sweets now have a fully automated system that is accessible from web and mobile, enabling directors to make approvals from any location.

Ashika Modasia, Senior Accountant at Mzuri Sweets Ltd, says: “SAP Business One has united our company into one platform, bringing visibility to our management and allowing us to focus on growth.”

Stationery manufacturer Safari Stationers faced a similar issue. Its previous accounting system could not support the growth of a low margin, high volume business. Company management knew it needed a new system that could provide accurate monitoring and synchronise its operations.

Following the implementation of SAP Business One, Safari Stationers can monitor credit more easily, set up sales parameters to ensure only the correct number of orders are taken, while accessing richly detailed reports that have improved decision-making across the business. General Manager Deepti Vara says: “It’s been a smart and efficient journey with SAP Business One, and we are excited for the future.”

Guerreiro adds: “Having systems and processes in place that automate back-office operations can also free up valuable internal resources, which can be deployed to high-value areas to support the SME’s growth.”

This was certainly the case for Mauritian engineering services firm Sotramon Limitée. With access to only basic accounting information and relying on manual processes, the company could not rely on its existing systems to support adequate stock taking, analysis or up to date information about the business.

ACEteK supported the company’s digital transformation with an SAP Business One implementation that sought to replace manual operations with automated processes that enabled easy access to up-to-date reports. Sotramon Chief Executive Officer Barbara Ah-Sue says: “SAP Business One has changed my life. It has given my business independence, accessibility and versatility.”

Guerreiro believes there is great potential for further investment into new technologies that could help SMEs unlock new market opportunities. “Ultimately SMEs should strive to become Intelligent Enterprises that apply advanced technologies within integrated, agile business processes to turn insight into action. As the sector expands its capabilities, SMEs will be better placed to sense opportunities, risks and trends, and take advantage of market opportunities.”

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Liquid Telecom launches Azure Stack, Microsoft’s cloud service in East Africa

The new Azure Stack service will allow companies to run a private Microsoft cloud within East Africa, rather than at one of Microsoft’s 54 public data centres located outside the region

Liquid Telecom Kenya has today launched a Microsoft Cloud service in East Africa that offers a step-change in cybersecurity for the region’s most sensitive databases.

The new Azure Stack service will allow companies to run a private Microsoft cloud within East Africa, rather than at one of Microsoft’s 54 public data centres located outside the region. This means users benefit from the cutting-edge security protocols developed and run by Microsoft on its cloud platforms, while holding their data locally, which makes data uploading faster for databases that can be as large as one terabyte or more.

The service will be available from today across East Africa, hosted in private cloud nodes in Kenya and Tanzania, which makes it possible to replicate databases at different locations to increase reliability and flexibility.

 “The data transmission time to Europe is around 200 milliseconds, and for the closest Microsoft cloud server, in South Africa, 55 milliseconds. But the new Azure Stacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam will mean data transfer speeds of less than 20 milliseconds for all users within East Africa,” said Winston Ritson, Group Head of Cloud Services for the Liquid Telecom Group.

This increase in speeds will transform back-ups and uploads from previously lengthy processes to swift data exchanges. Globally, companies have reported that this has transformed their operations, with one logistics company in California achieving a 50% improvement in service delivery on increased data speeds.

Using Azure Stack also opens the way to a level of cybersecurity that few organisations have the capacity to develop.

“Microsoft spends some $1bn a year on ensuring the security of its Azure platforms. This is a scale of spend and professional attention that companies cannot match or surpass in securing their data,” said Winston.

This comes as East Africa’s data security continues to deteriorate. In 2017, Kenya lost over Sh21bn to cybercrime. But the nation’s losses are forecast to rise further on new cyber threats, including attacks on built-in Windows IT admin tools, Powershell files and Windows Scripting executables.

 “Developing the Azure Stack in East Africa has required intensive development and co-operation between Liquid Telecom and Microsoft,” said Adil El Youssefi, CEO East Africa, Liquid Telecom. “However, we believe that in offering a now unequalled level of cybersecurity, it has delivered yet another vital pillar to the economic development of Kenya and East Africa.”

www.liquidtelecom.com

Dimensions Data and SAP partner to launch enterprise solutions for SMEs and corporates in East Africa, hopes to grow cloud business model

Dimension Data has entered into a partnership with SAP, to offer a new set of intelligent enterprise solutions in East Africa.

Aimed at SMEs, and the corporate market, these end-to-end services will help Dimension Data’s clients leverage the agility and costs advantages of managing SAP applications on existing infrastructure and moving them to the cloud. The solutions integrate intelligent technologies such as machine learning, and artificial intelligence to help manage data from multiple sources, further improving customer experience, people engagement, spend management, manufacturing and supply chain solutions amongst many other business functions.

The partnership comes at a time when SAP accelerates its move towards its flagship ERP software, S/4HANA within the region and which will see the firm cease worldwide support of the current Business Suite ERP solutions after 2025.   

“We’ve had a successful track record in enabling our clients make the most out of their SAP environments in the digital transformation era. Moving forward, we will be a critical partner in migrating clients to the SAP S/4HANA digital platform towards the intelligent enterprise era. A key gap we look to fill is continuous SAP Support services through our Managed Services. We look at helping organizations in Kenya optimize their SAP Solutions through our managed services model which not only supports implemented software but also looks at enhancing the entire SAP modules, that require new implementation or enhancements.” Said Ndung’u Kahindo, General Manager – Solutions, Dimension Data East Africa.

Dimension Data also hopes to grow the cloud business model that will enable customers consume and pay for value on the go, especially around adopting and utilizing new technology in IoT and Machine learning environments.

“SME’s and Corporates are acknowledging that operational efficiency, better decision making and continuous collaboration within their ecosystem brings value. This is not achievable without an integrated, comprehensive ERP. For this reason, SAP and Dimension Data have teamed together to build packaged solutions that uniquely meet the needs of these organizations, across people, processes and technology.” Said Joseph Kairigo, Managing Director, Dimension Data East Africa.

Kairigo added that businesses that do not have ERP Systems suffered disjointed and siloed processes which derail internal productivity and affect customer service in addition to having no insight to make better decisions around business expansion, capital investment and resource allocation.

The launch solidifies Dimension Data East Africa’s last announcement in December 2018 of plans to introduce new Enterprise Resource (ERP) and Digital Business Solutions in an ambitious growth drive for 2019 in partnership with leading global enterprise application vendors.

As a global SAP services market leader, Dimension Data offers a complete lifecycle of SAP-related services spanning consulting, implementations, upgrades, integration, applications management and automated cloud migration services.

According to research firm IDC, the global SAP market is estimated at about USD 200Billion. Dimension Data East Africa estimates the current SAP suite market size in East Africa to be valued at about USD 75 Million, with the potential to reach above USD200 Million over the next five years.

In East Africa Dimension Data serves the Public, Financial Services, Service Provider and Professional Services in addition to the Manufacturing and Commercial services sectors that are expected to achieve significant growth driven by cloud adoption, digital automation and localization of IT applications.

www.dimensiondata.com

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