Kenyan cloud services company Atlancis Technologies becomes the first to adopt OCP in Africa

 Atlancis Technologies, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, is the first ICT services provider in Africa to embrace OCP.

The company, which specializes in delivering ecosystem-transforming ICT solutions, has adopted open technology for its industry Cloud platforms, branded Servannah.

The founders of AtlancisToney Webala and Daniel Njuguna had been closely following the deployment of OCP and its benefits to global hyper-scale companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft to deliver value, optimised performance, total and rapid scalability and ultimately competitive advantage. In developing scalable delivery of industry solutions they were excited about the opportunity to leverage these proven, efficient technologies in Kenya and across Africa.

In partnership with Vesper Technologies, an OCP Community member based in the UK, Atlancis were able to deploy their first fully self-service cloud instance. Vesper delivered a full-stack solution configured with Software Defined Storage (from Ceph) and Software Defined Networking (from Cumulus Networks), providing an environment built for automation and scalability. The initial roll-out included 27 nodes, 1080 Core’s, 5TB RAM, 2.4 Petabytes storage and high performance 100GB Top-of-Rack switching with redundant 25G links to each node.

Philip Kaye from Vesper Technologies commented, “Vesper are delighted to work with Atlancis, who are an extremely technical and forward-thinking company. We look forward to continuing to work with the team as their cloud platform expands across Kenya and Africa.”

“The Open Compute Project is the basis of our go-to-market strategies for transforming target industry ecosystems globally” said Dan Njuguna, Co-Founder and CEO of Atlancis; he continued, “our hardware design, inspired by OCP, gives incredible flexibility and scalability to allow us to respond to demand in the enormous markets we operate in, and to move quickly into new markets, be they industries or geographical.”

Atlancis sees several additional benefits to deploying OCP, among them, building and maintaining open technology in-country, using crowd-sourced local resources. To this end, Atlancis has been working with local Universities across Kenya to help develop talent that can compete in supporting the ecosystem needs of tomorrow with a special Outlining further OCP deployments in Africa, Njuguna said, “Our OCP-based Servannah Cloud solutions have been deployed in the Public Sector (“Huduma”) and Education (“iLearn”), as we develop further industries including Healthcare, Agriculture and Transport.”

www.atlancis.com

[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

[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

[Column] Avinash Ramtohul: 5 key considerations for your journey to cloud

CEOs and CIOs on the continent have cloud at the centre of their digital transformation strategies, knowing fully well that without automation they will either be out of business or be steering an organisation towards undesired directions.

According to the IDC’s Kenya Enterprise ICT Market 2019 Outlook, 1,9 million USD is predicted to be spent on ICT in Kenya this year alone. The Kenyan government is prioritising it’s Big Four Agenda; which spans investment and development in manufacturing, food security, healthcare and housing. In order to achieve these objectives, the Government will focus on emerging technologies such as blockchain, IoT, cloud and data analytics.

CEOs and CIOs on the continent have cloud at the centre of their digital transformation strategies, knowing fully well that without automation they will either be out of business or be steering an organisation towards undesired directions. The ability to harvest, store and sort big data is a critical element of business competitiveness. The higher the use of autonomous technologies, the more the competitive edge!

In the process of devising a cloud adoption strategy, most companies realise that they can’t transition all workloads or business processes at once; considerations span Service Level Agreements, Data sensitivity and security, business continuity, cost and legislations/regulations. The challenge, then, is to carve out a transition plan that supports co-existence of on-premise and cloud based applications – hence ensuring minimal disruption when migrating pieces of software to the cloud in a chronological fashion.

There are 5 key considerations to take into account when carving out this transition plan; we explore these below.

Mapping your cloud-ready journey

Understanding how to achieve results that impact, not only the organisation, but the greater economy is crucial. Building a pathway to becoming cloud-ready should be an integrated approach, one driven by cloud strategy, policy and an innovative culture. Planning and preparation with the right cloud strategy are imperative to achieve the desired success

The path forward will vary, depending on where the organisation is starting. Each organisation will take a unique journey, following its own timeline. That said, most organisations could follow one or more of five use cases that describe the requirements they face on their journey:

  1. Streamline and modernise

If your enterprise does not have immediate plans to move to the cloud in a big way but does want to streamline its infrastructure. This kind of enterprise should work towards reducing technological complexity by replacing older servers, storage and backup systems with modern systems that are architecturally compatible with systems powering private and public cloud services.

  1. Accelerate time to value

With the aim of maintaining and growing its competitive edge, most innovative organisations need to do more with less, and faster – a necessary ingredient to live up to the rising expectations of both, the shareholders and customers, alike. In such a situation, an appliance strategy can provide great benefit. Today’s modern appliances come preconfigured to serve different purposes, such as to support a database, a private cloud environment, UNIX, or big-data applications. Because appliances are easy to deploy and operate, requiring less time and fewer specialised skills, IT departments are able to implement and manage them quickly, with a reduced learning curve, avoiding the hassles of testing and integration.

  1. Optimise and extend private cloud

Many organisations first implement private cloud to achieve lower costs and greater agility for generic, non-critical workloads. Most self-assembled generic private clouds take months to build out, resulting in decreased agility and expensive personnel to build, tune and manage. They typically require expensive licenses and support contract to run generic workloads. The recommended way forward therefore, is to adopt platforms that are optimised for cost and/or performance. Generic workloads can run on the Oracle Private Cloud Appliance, optimised to deliver low-cost computing for Linux, Solaris, and Windows applications while more-demanding applications operate better on purpose-built engineered systems. 

This provides an easy path to public or hybrid cloud, with unified management across environments.

  1. Optimise and secure critical applications

Business-critical applications require peak performance and security. However, in many organisations, the infrastructure supporting these applications has been built over time and is lagging in modernisation, and is now inconsistent with currently available mix of platforms. The result is an overly complex environment that does not always deliver the required performance or security.

Enterprises, here, would be better off identifying applications that manage data of low sensitivity to move them to the cloud. Back-ups, learning and test & dev environments would easily fit into Oracle’s IaaS offerings with a reduction in cost (eradicating cost of hardware, cooling, data centre space, labour). For the residual applications, high-end SPARC-based servers will optimise performance while improving efficiency with the highest security, whether implemented on-premises or on the cloud. Moving to a single platform will also bring cost savings and unified and simplified infrastructure management.

  1. Consolidate and protect data with advanced storage solutions

Every company is facing data storage and protection challenges. With the ever-increasing explosion of data volumes, simply adding to an existing storage infrastructure is no longer affordable nor effective. The better approach is to implement modern storage solutions that are built to eliminate data loss and cut recovery times. Voluminous data can be off-loaded to the cloud which offers ample security and ease of access management. Same data can be accessed from any authentic IP source, rendering the data loading and access process more streamlined and less costly.  

Take control of your future

For each of the considerations, Oracle delivers cloud-ready systems that have precise equivalents in Oracle’s own public cloud. In this way, the public cloud appears as a compatible extension of what already runs in your data centre, making it easier to move when you are ready. Even if you have no immediate plans to move to the cloud, it is a nice option to have. In the meantime, you are able to bring many benefits of the public cloud into your on-premises infrastructure and accelerate the process of innovation.

Avinash Ramtohul is the Managing Director, Mauritius and Cloud Architect Leader, Sub-Saharan Africa at Oracle.

[Column] Ade Famoti: Autonomous IT, empowering business to be its best

In Kenya, cloud is no longer just a possibility, it is the fundamental tool igniting innovation

Cloud computing is rapidly becoming an essential component of business transformation. In Kenya, cloud is no longer just a possibility, it is the fundamental tool igniting innovation. At a high level, cloud is an economiser, requiring no massive start-up costs before results can be realised. Cloud is also an enabler: the very best technologies, ready to be put to work to help organisations innovate and differentiate.

But as technology has become essential to the operation of modern business, and complex, organisations such as banks, retailers and many others have found that to be leaders within their chosen fields, they have also had to become exceptional in terms of their understanding and use of technology.

Take banking as an example. A bank’s core purpose is to be the best bank it can possibly be, not to run the best ‘tech-shop’. The thing is, over time, banks have become ever more reliant on technology to enable that purpose.

And as that dependency has grown, so their requirement for staff to manage that technology has grown. This has resulted in the creation of sizeable groups of staff who are dedicated to servicing technology in the back end, rather than servicing customers. But customers don’t choose a bank because it has the best possible back-end technology. They come because it offers the best products combined with the best customer service.

That vision of being the best possible bank might be powered by technology, but it is the technology at the front end that makes the biggest impact in the eyes of the customer – and you can’t invest in front-end systems if most of your resources are devoted to maintaining systems at the back-end.

New wave of technology

Perhaps it is time that we let organisations get back to focusing on what they are best at – be that retailing, banking, or whatever their core mission is – and leave technology to look after itself.

It sounds like a fantasy, but it is the promise made by the newest wave of business technology innovation – autonomous technology. Combining the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning, autonomous technology delivers the capability for IT systems to self-manage, self-repair and self-secure across a wide range of functions and applications.

Let’s take a step back to understand the concept of machine learning. While machine learning itself can be unduly complex, the basic ideas are easy to grasp. Let’s use the example of a business process both familiar and highly important to most organisations: selecting and on-boarding job candidates.

The basic components would start with a training data set: a complete history of all candidates selected and hired, their key attributes, how they were on-boarded, and their eventual performance in the organisation. Next, an analysis engine would extract key features that contributed to candidates’ success and create a recommendation engine that would rate new applicants and their likelihood to thrive at the organisation.

So far, this scenario is somewhat similar to data analytics, except that the algorithms decide which factors matter and which ones do not. Machine learning goes one step further. It processes ongoing results of those candidates, and continually updates its recommendation engine rules over time.

It learns from actual experience, and thus it makes better decisions over time. Think of adaptive intelligence as data-driven learning at vastly increased speeds compared with humans.

When applied in a database, autonomous technology can not only automate the process of cleansing and organising data, it can also ensure patches are applied and the data is secured. And when applied in a data warehouse, autonomous technology can interrogate data to find correlations and patterns across structured and unstructured data, and then present these as insights back to business users.

This is not a vision of the future, it is a capability that Oracle is making available to the market now. And it can do all of this with minimal human intervention.

Remove complexity, add value

The key difference with autonomous technology is that it eliminates complexity.

This frees people from performing many of the tedious tasks associated with managing backend technology, allowing them to focus on tasks that will make a real difference to their organisation and their customers.

As technologies such as AI, machine learning and intelligent process automation become more widely available, finance leaders want to know: How can these technologies help me in my business?

At Oracle, we are embedding intelligent digital assistants into our products and applications. In finance departments, digital assistants can perform similar functions to automate repetitive processes that consume employee hours – time that could be better spent on higher-level tasks such as faster decision-making and architecting a new financial strategy. Soon you’re going to see digital assistants help your organisation speed up financial year end, manage budgets, and perform financial forecasting. When viewed from an organisation-wide perspective, autonomous technology means getting back to focusing on what the organisation does best, safe in the knowledge that the technology is taking care of itself. So we can finally let organisations get back to doing what they do best. Ade Famoti is the Director, Sales Strategy & Business Development – Africa at Oracle

SEACOM adds eight new PoPs across Africa for more African businesses to connect to worldwide cloud facilities

The PoPS will also enable the businesses to connect to the continent’s first Microsoft Azure data centres, in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Pan-African Internet and connectivity service provider SEACOM is adding eight new Points of Presence (PoPs) across Africa to enable more African businesses to connect to cloud facilities worldwide. The PoPS will also enable the businesses to connect to the continent’s first Microsoft Azure data centres, in Johannesburg and Cape Town.  

In Kenya, SEACOM has extended its presence in the brand-new icolo data centre in Mombasa. This full-service facility acts as an on-ramp to SEACOM’s resilient network, providing better support to service provider and enterprise customers in the country. It offers both premium IP/MPLS and transmission services from this new PoP.

SEACOM’s Mombasa PoP is also significant as it connects Kenya’s first truly open-access data centre onto the SEACOM open-access data network. Rare in the region, in comparison to operator-owned data centres, these carrier-neutral facilities encourage competition in the local ICT sphere, helping to increase cloud-based service offerings for customers while driving down costs.  

SEACOM has similar plans for new open-access PoPs that are coming in Nairobi and Kampala. In preparation for higher demand and expanded services to business customers in the region, SEACOM has upgraded its backhaul connecting Mombasa to these new PoPs to include four separate and resilient routes.

In South Africa, SEACOM is deploying a new PoP within the carrier neutral Teraco Bredell data centre. Robert Marston, Global Head of Product at SEACOM, explains, “This new facility is a key location, catering specifically to content providers and enterprise customers. It will also serve as an important data recovery site for many operators.”

Although it already owns Africa’s most extensive international ICT data infrastructure, SEACOM says it is continually investing in strategic upgrades and expanding its PoP footprint within Africa. The company’s recent acquisition of FibreCo has added more than 60 network nodes across its South African network – including six core PoPs in major metros – vastly extending its reach. Internationally, SEACOM is the only African carrier to cover all five of the largest exchange points in Europe (London, Frankfort, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Marseille), in addition to Mumbai.

SEACOM’s PoPs are key to the provider’s direct access offerings, which bypass the public Internet in connecting company networks to digital business solutions. The standard-setting service sees line rates reach from 100 Mbps up to 100 Gigabits per second. By connecting onto a SEACOM PoP that is in closer proximity to their core business sites, customers can experience the SEACOM network’s speed and reliability with more convenience, and generally less cost.

Marston concludes, “The moves that SEACOM is making to improve our infrastructure on the continent will benefit African companies with greater high-speed, reliable and secure connectivity to cloud services and other online tools. One of our major objectives is to add simplicity to cloud migrations wherever possible.”

www.seacom.mu

[Column] Christine Ambetsa: Data Security; embracing autonomy and intelligent machines

The National Cybersecurity Centre (NCC) detected over 3.8 million cyber threats between July and September 2018 according to the Communications Authority of Kenya’s first quarter sector statistics report for 2018/19.

CIOs are operating in a state of heightened awareness. Their mission-critical systems are increasingly under threat from constantly evolving viruses and hacks, making it tougher than ever to defend the lifeblood of their business – data.

The National Cybersecurity Centre (NCC) detected over 3.8 million cyber threats between July and September 2018 according to the Communications Authority of Kenya’s first quarter sector statistics report for 2018/19. The cyber threats detected varied from denial-of-service (DOS) including botnet and brute-force attacks that led to denial of computer services and illegal access to computer systems, online impersonation via social media accounts and domain names, malware including phishing attacks and online abuse including online fraud to name a few.

Unsurprisingly, nearly a third of Kenyan CIOs state that their key focus area is advanced security solutions, the second highest priority listed after disaster recovery and business continuity.¹

Security is hard

Simply put, security is hard. Much of it comes down to the way IT has evolved – as an open environment. For years, people and businesses have purchased disparate products, disparate servers, disparate operating systems and disparate databases and then connected them all together. The unintended and unfortunate result is that lots and lots of individual pathways have been opened up in the corporate system.

As a result, what’s sprung up around these corporate systems is a cyberspace battlefield, in which nobody is safe. Even IT professionals are combatants on that battlefield, tasked to make the right security choice every day, because if you don’t, you’re putting the future of the business at risk.

Adding even greater significance to the security mandate today is the advanced and persistent nature of today’s threats. Malicious actors are seemingly always one-step ahead and in order for enterprise security forces to do their job, they must exercise constant vigilance and innovation.

So how can businesses move forward with confidence and continue to build their data assets, while at the same time facing up to the barrage of security threats?

A new kind of defence

The answer is a new kind of defence; one that pits machine against machine so that organisations have a nearly impenetrable barrier to protect their data and their cloud.

Hackers are already wise to the power of letting machines do the work. Right now, for many organisations this battle takes the form of their malicious bots versus your people trying to defend from inside the business. But in this scenario of machine versus man, which do you think is faster? Who do you think will win?

To give your business a fighting chance in protecting its data, you need a defence system that’s completely automated, and even autonomous. With autonomous data management, database threats can be discovered automatically and then repaired. No human beings are involved. Patches are immediately applied while the database is running, which means you don’t need to wait around to find a window of downtime. This is essential for protecting your data on-premise and in the cloud.

Security in the cloud

The current state of cloud defence, in many cases, is just not good enough – not even close. The smartest technology companies are routinely penetrated, as we’ve seen in the unending stream of media stories about businesses having vast quantities of their data stolen. Even the most security-conscious government agencies are also vulnerable.

And because organisations don’t exist in isolation protection is needed both within the company and without. So, the cloud/s they run on also need robust cyber defences using the latest artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies; to find threats and kill them; to search and destroy. Again, the only way to win is to make the battle robots versus robots. It’s the only way to protect the cloud infrastructure without having both hands tied behind your back.

The good news is that the government intends to focus on emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud solutions and data analytics; this pronounced focus will be a key driver for the local ICT market according to the IDC’s Kenya Enterprise ICT Market Outlook for 2018 and 2019.

Time to let machines take the lead

We’re already seeing some companies turning to use systems like the autonomous database for better protection – and without the additional overheads.

Take National Pharmacies, an Australian pharmacy chain, for instance. The company has to be able to move its data at speed for life-saving insights, but needs autonomous capabilities to keep protecting its database without human intervention; as it can’t risk loosening any security or privacy practices at any point.

So, with attacks becoming more frequent, and attackers getting smarter and businesses data more vulnerable, it’s time to let machines take the lead on the cybersecurity battlefield. In doing so, companies will then have at their disposal, the most advanced tools in order to fight – and win – against the most advanced threats.

Christine Ambetsa is the Regional Applications Sales Leader – East Africa at Oracle

Kenyan banks embrace infobip solutions to grow customer base, manage competition

Infobip, a global cloud communications company for businesses and leader in omnichannel engagement is enhancing its presence in Kenya by partnering with banks and businesses.

Housing Finance Group, an integrated property and financial solutions provider in Kenya believes tailored dialogue is key in building long term relationships with their customers.

”It is imperative to listen to your customers and interact with them on digital channels. Our recently launched mobile app, for example, increased our customer base by 150 percent in only seven weeks, but USSD service is still very much in demand in Kenya. With the support of Infobip, we implemented our USSD solution in less than two months, and we can already attest to great results customer-wise,” said George Njuguna, Chief Information Officer, H.F. Group. 

Infobip has partnered with several financial and telecommunications companies across the region, bringing financial solutions to the unbanked and helping banks and fintech enterprises meet the growing competition from the expanding FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google) communications sector.

A major shift in mobile money and financial services trends are evolving across Africa. Other companies using Infobip’s A2P communication technology in Africa include the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), the largest privately-owned bank in East Africa.

“We are constantly trying to find new, innovative ways to optimize our processes and interactions with our customers to increase satisfaction with our bank. CBA is utilizing Infobip’s platform for A2P SMS communication, but our goal is also to expand our cooperation with additional channels such as email, chat apps and push notifications for example,” Dennis Volemi, Head of IT at CBA.

Kenya tops the list of African countries with ease of access to financial services thanks in part to its high uptake of mobile money, placing the country ahead of economic giants such as South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana. Other key drivers of this development include mobile adoption and internet connectivity. 84 percent of Kenya’s population has access to the Internet.  91 percent of Kenya’s total population has a mobile phone, compared to the average of 80 percent mobile penetration in all of Africa.[1]

”Infobip is expanding its operations in Africa. It is a region that is changing and improving rapidly when it comes to mobile money and financial services. Kenya, being one of the more progressive and developed nations in Africa, presents great potential and sets an example in truly diminishing the unbanked. With Infobip’s messaging solutions, banks can effectively build customer engagement, trust, and loyalty that is so important in Africa’s evolving banking industry,” said Rachel Njiru, Infobip’s MD Kenya & Director OP Africa.

By using Infobip’s omnichannel solution, Kenyan businesses can choose the optimal communication channels for specific types of messages, all available on a single communication platform.

Businesses can design targeted promotional campaigns and provide transactional traffic by including, for example, notification codes, account balance changes, bonus calculations on member cards, and payment reminders. The channels include SMS, and a number of chat app channels such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Facebook Messenger, RCS, Push and more.

“Banks have to meet the customer needs of its competition. Maintaining customers long-term will require impactful engagement through omnichannel communications over the channels they use and prefer.  Infobip is a provider that can truly address these pain points, helping banks throughout Africa improve their financial service offerings and ultimately enable every Kenyan with a bank account to be powered by mobile technology,” said Ali Hussein Kassim, co-founder, and CEO of FinteXX.

Infobip’s enablement of WhatsApp Business API allows enterprises in over 180 countries to communicate branded and rich content, such as high-res images, video, and files to its customers over WhatsApp, the chat app trusted and used by 1.6 billion people worldwide.

A financial institution can for example offer banking services such as personal account verification information, account statements, banking transaction alerts or help customers find the closest branch.

www.infobip.com

Seacom to provide direct connectivity for Kenyan businesses to South Africa

Leading Pan-African Internet and connectivity service provider, SEACOM has announced that it will now offer direct connections from its East Africa network to public cloud networks and data centres located in South Africa. This follows the launch of Microsoft’s enterprise-grade data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

SEACOM’s offering, available to business customers, will deliver direct, high-speed, dedicated and secure connectivity to the Microsoft data centres via resilient network connections from Kenya to South Africa. The SEACOM subsea cable, which connects Kenya to South Africa, offers a fibre express route that carries Terabytes of capacity with speeds from as low as 50 Mbps up to 10 Gbps. In addition to this, SEACOM’s recent acquisition of FibreCo’s network allows it to extend this capability across South Africa and into the major data centres where cloud providers, such as Microsoft, have a presence.

Ten years ago, Pan-African Internet provider SEACOM first brought its high-speed Internet connectivity directly to Africa, opening the continent to the technological advancements we enjoy today. In 2016, SEACOM upscaled its commitment to Africa, offering business customers high-speed, reliable Internet connectivity and cloud-based business solutions, without relying on middlemen.

Through years of experience with global cloud providers such as Microsoft, SEACOM has provided solutions to businesses that are considering cloud migration. One such example is the launch of the Azure ExpressRoute offering together with Microsoft, that allows SEACOM customers to extend their on-premises networks into the cloud without going over the public Internet. Until now, this solution had been limited to data centres outside of the African continent.

The opportunity for Kenyan businesses to leverage SEACOM’s ExpressRoute to connect directly and reliably to these Microsoft data centres will enable more Kenyan businesses to embrace the cloud and enhance digitisation.

www.seacom.mu

[Kenya] Multi-Cloud, AI, IoT to Pave Way for Digital Transformation

Dell Technologies is now banking on Multi Cloud Technology, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things to provide enterprises with enhanced solutions as Kenya gets into the digital transformation era.

Dell Technologies is now banking on Multi Cloud Technology, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things to provide enterprises with enhanced solutions as Kenya gets into the digital transformation era.

As businesses get into the fourth industrial revolution, data is becoming an increasingly valuable currency for businesses; and Dell Technologies is investing in data management systems through its multi-cloud services to ensure businesses transact in a secure, reliable and convenient ecosystem.

“These technologies share a common thread: each of them is fueled by data. And as we continue to embrace the growing digital economy, the true value of data as currency will become increasingly clear. We at Dell Technologies keep our commitment to deliver world-class solutions and services for the betterment of the community. We are here to help organizations embrace this world of change and align with Kenya’s Vision 2030 which aims to provide a high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030.” said Habib Mahakian, Vice President of Dell Technologies – Emerging Africa.

Dell Technologies has combined its innovation of Dell, Dell EMC, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream and VMware, all in one family of businesses, each acting independently, but working closely—and better together.

“This is a unique structure that allows us to innovate like a startup, but with the scale of a global powerhouse. We at Dell Technologies help organizations, whether big or small, to unlock the value of their data.” he added.

Speaking during the Dell Technologies Forum in Nairobi, Habib noted that the era of human-machine partnership is here to stay and that business using robots are now experiencing increased efficiency and effective delivery.

There is a lot of hype around IoT and in Dell Technologies view, despite its name, it’s not a thing, IoT is as a concept, and that concept can be very simply expressed as: gathering and processing data from connected things to create value. IoT is going to be big, and according to a new update to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Semiannual Internet of Things Spending Guide, worldwide spending on the IoT is forecast to reach $745 billion in 2019, an increase of 15.4% over the $646 billion spent in 2018. IDC expects worldwide IoT spending will maintain a double-digit annual growth rate throughout the 2017-2022 forecast period and surpass the $1 trillion mark in 2022.

“When it comes to Internet of Things, we believe that organizations have to do more than simply connect things. They have to be able to transform the data into business values as it flows from the edge to the distributed core and into the cloud. Our distributed core solutions can ingest and store massive amounts of data, analyze the data in near real-time and deliver actionable insights while it matters.” Said Nazih Moufarrej, General Manager & Regional Director – South East Africa, Dell Technologies.

“We are also focusing on offering Artificial Intelligence solutions coupled with ML Algorithms, it is estimated that by 2025, 60% of AI will run on optimized silicon. Dell Technologies has invested in numerous semiconductor startups developing new processor models to accelerate machine learning use cases. These innovations will all reside within enterprise-class servers.” Nazih added

Dell Technologies is the leading provider of infrastructure software used to power the modern enterprise with VMware, but has also taken a lead in delivering different models of handling new types of code that will power cloud-native and IoT environments.

With systems such as Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF), Pivotal Container Service (PKS) and new tools such as Pivotal Function Service, Dell Technologies recognizes that new business and technology models will require new infrastructure software capabilities to deliver the best outcomes.

At this one-day event, taking place on April 9th at Villa Rosa Kempinski, Dell Technologies’ executives highlighted the importance of achieving Digital Transformation via four major pillars: Application, IT, Workforce and Security Transformation. In addition, the Forum showcased a wide range of Dell Technologies’ solutions, services and products.

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