[Column] Francis Wainaina: How cloud technology could transform manufacturing in Africa

Globally, the manufacturing sector plays a significant role in driving economic growth, job creation, and lifting people out of poverty. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, global manufacturing output has been in decline and Kenyan manufacturers say they are now prioritising cost reduction, increasing revenue, retaining jobs, and improving cash flow. At the same time, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution underway, manufacturers are being pushed to embrace technological development – or risk losing business to more technologically advanced competitors.

Cloud technologies offer manufacturers a solution to this, providing speed, agility, cost savings, and innovation advantages that could accelerate the recovery of the manufacturing sector as well as increase Kenya’s global competitiveness. The African Continental Free Trade Area, Kenya-USA Free Trade Area, Kenya-UK Free Trade Area, and the European Union, under the Economic Partnership Agreements, all present enormous export opportunities for our country, but our manufacturing sector cannot fully capitalise on these global markets without undergoing significant digital transformation.

Kenya’s vision

In 2008, the Kenyan government launched Kenya Vision 2030 with a long-term national development strategy to transform Kenya into a globally competitive industrial hub. Under the Big Four Agenda, the government hopes to increase the manufacturing sector’s contribution to Kenya’s GDP to 15% by 2022. 

The Competitive Industrial Performance Index Report (2020), which benchmarks our ability to produce and export manufactured goods competitively, ranked Kenya 115th out of 152 countries.  While this places us as a leader in East Africa, Kenya’s manufacturing sector still has a long way to go – and the pandemic has not made things easier. In May 2020, a KAM-KPMG survey showed that 53% of manufacturers were operating below 50% capacity during the pandemic. Although manufacturing’s contribution to GDP decreased from 7.8% in 2018 to 7.5% in 2019, the sector also saw an increase from KSh. 690.6 billion to Ksh. 734.6 billion in value added over the same period – largely due to increased output in the manufacturing of transport equipment, chemicals, and chemical products and pharmaceuticals.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers developed the Manufacturing Priority Agenda 2021 to accelerate the recovery of Kenya’s manufacturing sector, with enhanced digitalisation as one of the seven key agendas to “enhance productivity, induce innovation, and enhance resource efficiency”.

The future of manufacturing

In the past, the prevailing winning strategies for manufacturers were large production sites, long product life-cycles, vertical integration, and a heavy investment in costly on-premise systems. But the face of manufacturing has changed, and today’s manufacturers do not only compete by the size and scale of their operations, but also by their speed and agility. For example, many plants today are distributed across the globe and dependent on a constantly fluctuating global supply chain, which necessitates more flexible and data-driven approaches to supply chain management. 

As is the case in most other sectors, the future of manufacturing now belongs to those who can successfully adopt technologies such as machine learning and automation, big data, or IoT. Cloud systems enable these forward-facing technologies, which is why 46% of respondents in Africa’s manufacturing sector, according to a study by World Wide Worx, reported an increased spend on cloud services.

Why manufacturers are using the cloud

Efficient manufacturing is about accomplishing more with fewer resources without compromising on quality. It is also about effectively managing communication between suppliers and distributors, streamlining production schedules through real-time and insight-driven monitoring, and minimising operational costs.

Cloud technologies play directly into all of this, and while some of these capabilities are possible with on-premise systems, cloud-based systems are much faster and more cost-effective to roll out, enable easier customisation and flexibility, allow for scalability, and open the door for innovation. Manufacturers often compete in highly regulated industries where being first-to-market is crucial, and cloud computing is making it possible for them to reduce the time it takes to conduct strategic sourcing, quality audits, supply chain management, optimisation, and more accurate forecasting.

Developing scalable manufacturing intelligence across various plants can be achieved at a much lower cost and with greater accuracy using cloud systems, which can provide real-time insights into production performance using one central dashboard. Cloud-based monitoring systems also allow production processes to be fine-tuned actively and with greater accuracy, making it easier to identify bottlenecks and make configuration changes from any location.

Legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that do not run in the cloud were not designed for complex compliance reporting requirements, which is becoming increasingly important in the manufacturing sector. Cloud computing is making it possible to integrate these legacy systems with the cloud and define entirely new metrics and performance indicators.

Unlocking Africa’s potential

As industries and businesses adapt to working in the digital-first world, digital transformation has become critical to success. Cloud technologies have become a pillar of the modern business world, and the manufacturing sector is certainly no exception. To accelerate the growth of Kenya’s economy through improved manufacturing capabilities, we need to follow international trends and take advantage of all the opportunities that cloud has to offer.

Francis Wainaina is a Senior Product Manager at SEACOM East Africa.

[Kenya] AAR Insurance partners with Safaricom to migrate to the cloud

AAR Insurance has inked a deal with telecommunications provider Safaricom to roll out new technology infrastructure based on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) as part of its goal to be a full digital insurance company.

The medical underwriter has begun migrating its digital tools and core systems to the AWS platform in a move that will offer clients more secure and efficient digital services.

The AWS cloud computing service will also help interface AAR Insurance digital channels – Mobile Apps, USSD services, web portals and chatbots – with the company’s core insurance technology systems thus enhancing operational efficiency while reducing costs and service downtime.

AAR Insurance Kenya Managing Director, Nixon Shigoli, says migrating all the core insurance platforms and business Applications to AWS will help the company achieve its strategic goals on digital transformation including moving all client interactions to mobile.

“AWS offers services that are affordable and flexible to grow with us as our business evolves. Besides providing enhanced and robust security features to support our business data infrastructure, AWS is reliable and customizable to our unique environment,” said Mr. Shigoli.

He added that Cloud infrastructure is critical to AAR operations as it will enable rapid deployment of Applications and is easy to adjust as needs and resource demands change.

“Moving our information assets, core systems and digital tools to the Cloud presents attractive opportunities for the realization of our goal of being a full digital insurance provider, by creating an environment for customers to enjoy end-to-end services through their phones and digital devices,” he added.

The AWS Cloud service uses the pay-as-you-go model meaning AAR Insurance will no longer have to deploy expensive hardware infrastructure on premise.

On his part, Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa says the AWS Cloud infrastructure offers businesses, including insurance firms, a highly scalable and secure experience to grow and support digital channels.

“AAR Insurance Kenya becomes the first insurance company locally for whom we are implementing the AWS Cloud platform. We are delighted to be part of the digital transformation at AAR and overall growth of digital insurance in Kenya,” said Mr. Ndegwa.

He pointed out that an increasingly digital consumer ecosystem requires robust technology infrastructure to support web Applications among other critical tools underpinning a superior customer experience.

“Cloud is the new normal and most businesses today have either already moved their operations into the cloud or are in the process of migrating,” explained the Safaricom boss.

So far, AAR Insurance has rolled out a number of digital platforms through which clients can enroll and pay for medical, travel and personal accident insurance, manage and track treatment expenses, using phones and other devices. They can also interact real-time with AAR Insurance through WhatsApp.

www.aar-insurance.com

www.safaricom.co.ke

[Kenya] FirstWave announces level one partner agreement with Moja Access

Global, cybersecurity-as-a-service company, FirstWave Cloud Technology Limited  has announced the signing of a three-year Level 1 Partner Agreement with Moja Access, part of CSquared Group, a pan-African technology company.

The First revenues to flow immediately under ‘oppt-out’ path to market.

Moja Access is the Kenya-based operating company of CSquared, a panAfrican operator of wholesale and open-access fibre and WiFi infrastructure in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Liberia. 

 CSquared currently operates fibre and last mile WiFi networks in these cities, with over 40 mobile operators and internet service providers relying on its infrastructure for serving mobile consumers and corporate customers.

These four African nations had over 10 million Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and over 70 million internet users at the end of 2020. In the initial phase of this partnership, FirstWave has deployed its recently launched FirstCloud™ WebProtect DNS platform for each of CSquared’s four territories for use by CSquared’s operating companies and Level 2 partners.

CSquared’s operating companies’ partners and their end-customers will get the web security solution as part of their internet service on an “opt-out” basis. As a consequence, revenue generation will commence immediately, and end-customers can ‘opt-out’ if, for any reason, they decide they do not want the service.

Moja Access is currently in conversations with customers for uptake of this service. The Partnership Agreement is for a 3-year term with rolling 6-month extension options thereafter and in keeping with FirstWave’s service proposition – democratising enterprise-grade cybersecurity-as-a service – the vast number of MSMEs and Internet users across these 4 African nations can now be protected on CSquared’s network from cyber intruders, on a consumption basis, at an affordable monthly price.

Lanre Kolade, Group CEO of CSquared, said, “We are very excited to have signed this partnership with FirstWave. Our clients, including Telcos and Internet Service Providers, will benefit from FirstWave’s differentiated SaaS products. It will allow us to rapidly deploy and sell on a consumption based monthly pricing model, enterprise grade cybersecurity services to all our clients and their end-customers, large and small.”

FirstWave’s CEO, Neil Pollock explained, “I’m delighted to welcome CSquared Group’s Moja Access as our 8 th Level 1 partner and see initial revenues already flowing from the partnership. CSquared is a fast-growing panAfrican service provider backed by two large global corporations Google LLC and Mitsui & Co. CSquared already delivers robust fibre connectivity and internet access to thousands of end-customers via its 40+ mobile operator and ISP clients. With revenues already delivered, the partnership has had a really positive start.” This announcement has been approved for release by the Board of Directors.

www.firstwavecloud.com

www.csquared.com

[Interview] Dennis De Weerd, CEO, Incentro Africa

Dennis De Weerd is the CEO at Incentro Africa, an IT service provider delivering custom build cloud-based software solutions for the European and African market.

Kindly introduce Incentro

Incentro is an IT services provider with offices in the Netherlands, Spain and Kenya. Incentro Africa delivers high-quality custom build cloud-based software solutions for the European and African market. With Dutch development standards and close collaboration with the Fair Trade Software Foundation, we deliver software solutions that both impact our customers and staff. We are founded on the ambitions to make CSR more core of what we do and therefore we always look to apply our unique skills to build software solutions that contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. 

As the only Google Premier Partner in the region we support organizations across the African continent to work effectively from wherever they are. Especially relevant these days. We do this by deploying Cloud-based solutions like Google Workspace, Chromebooks and Cloud infrastructure. From migration from local data centers to Cloud to the development of cloud-native applications, Google Cloud is our tool of choice and we are incredibly proud to call ourselves the only Work transformation enterprise specialist on the continent.

The demand for cloud services is growing rapidly in Africa. How would you describe this growth?

With increasing connectivity and availability of reliable and cheap internet across the continent, it has changed the way people work. Cloud is a leapfrog technology, comparable to the introduction of the mobile phone and we are just at the beginning of it. Especially now the pandemic we’ve seen a major uptake in the use of cloud-based solutions, by even the most traditional companies.

Let me give you some examples to demonstrate what I’m talking about:  For instance, we migrated the Central Bank of West African States to Google Cloud based productivity suite Workspace in less than a week when a lockdown was looming. From working with traditional infrastructure from a central office to a highly secure cloud-based productivity suite that allowed their staff to work from home and boost their productivity with easy to use tools. So there are a few drivers here that boosted the uptake, but it was already unavoidable that this new way of working is the standard. Let me give you another one. Consider your startup, you want to offer a new service in a traditional industry. Let’s say you are a fintech, offering quick and reliable credit scores for smallholder farmers.

Are you going to invest and buy a server, even when you don’t have customers yet and you are stressed for funding? Are you going to create extensive scoring algorithms or prefer to train an AI model? Right, you’d choose to go for a cloud-based solution that offers you a pay per use model, is available right away, limitlessly scalable and offers all the great technology with the click of a button. But it’s not only for start-ups. Let say you are a large enterprise running SAP on your on premise infrastructure. You need to procure the hardware and software, maintain the services and facility and know-how to support your staff and keep the environments secure. Let’s say you are a large retailer, selling through stores and online. You’d need to provision your hardware for the projected performance you need for multiple years and take peak loads into account. For instance for black Friday or back to school campaigns. But most of the time the hardware is just sitting there ideally, no one is buying during the night time hours. Now put this in the cloud, you just pay for what you use, optimize to make sure you don’t use any resources at night and scale to manage that peak load on black Friday. 

These are just a few examples of the power of the cloud. So the trend we’ve seen in the US and Europe can be seen in Africa as well. It’s a leapfrog technology that allows organisations to deliver high performance as little costs and overhead. It keeps organisations lean and those companies that understand this, and of course it is mostly digital natives, are able to disrupt traditional markets and industries by delighting customers with new services. Completely changing the game and leaving big, slow enterprises behind.

African cloud computing market is generating a lot of interest and deals. Players like Incentro are positioning themselves for the boom in data services on the continent. What does this mean for companies like yours?

For us it means we are substantially investing in technical knowledge and growing our team of certified Cloud consultants rapidly so we are ready when it does. It’s good to understand that when we started in Kenya there were no certified Google Cloud Architects in the whole country, so in order to offer this service, we need to train and certify talented technical consultants to do this work. 

But it is not only about being able to do the work, it’s also important to educate the market. To date, most companies have no cloud strategy and there’s a lot of misinformation and misinterpretation of local regulations and a general lack of knowledge of cloud. So we invest heavily in the growth of not only our technical team but also a commercial team that is able to educate the market in the value proposition of cloud services.

Though we started early we see things are moving now. When we started our cloud proposition over 2 years ago, there was little demand, but the pandemic has accelerated this in many cases, though we expect the big uptake to take place from late 2021 and 2022. It is only when these digital strategies start to include cloud strategy and procurement teams understand how to procure for cloud that this will happen. We have seen this explosive, accelerating uptake in cloud services in the European market where the cloud market is projected to triple from >$25B in 2018 to <$75B in 2026.

Why is there a need for African businesses to migrate to the cloud?

It depends on the organisation. As mentioned in my previous examples there are different motivations for the different companies, but overall we see most of our customers make the move 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.

What are some of your success stories as Incentro?

Last year, we received a call from the Central Bank of West African States, responsible for the economy of 8 countries in West Africa. Their traditional infrastructure didn’t allow them to work from home and with a pending lockdown, they needed a solution, quick. We’ve been able to migrate and onboard them in less than a week’s time. This story even made it to Forbes Africa magazine and we are incredibly proud to have been the ones that made this happen. 

Another story we are very proud of is the one of Text Book Centre. They had been conflicted between choosing from renewing their on-premise hardware or choosing to go to cloud to run their company critically software. When the pandemic hit, the choice became obvious. Getting hardware in, sending people to maintain your data center, deliver high performance for a distributed workforce, being scalable (up and down) in uncertain times. All no brainers to choose for cloud over on-premise. Of course it is scary to take that leap and transition your core systems to Cloud.

“This was the most seamless digital transition I have experienced.”- Armand Houhau, MD Text Book Centre told us.

What makes your services stand out?

In the market, we sadly see a lot of resellers. Just pushing licences, without understanding the product or service they are offering. Incentro has 25+ years of experience as IT consultants and it’s in our nature. We focus on high-quality services, delivered by trained and certified professionals. From sales, through technical consultants to our 24/7 support team. We understand that Workspace and Cloud services are just tools that help your business to succeed. But only when applied well. Therefore we invest a lot in understanding our clients and coming up with tailor-made workshops, training and change management programs, etc. Adoption is key for us. We use our extensive experience to deliver this unique service to our customers, which are currently in 26 countries in Africa. By being the only Google Premier Partner in East Africa and the only Work transformation enterprise specialists on the continent we are awarded by Google for the impact we make on our clients. 

When you receive such amazing feedback after migration, you can only be very proud of your team that made this possible.

Who are some of your cloud partners and which customers you work with?

We work exclusively with Google Cloud. Their global infrastructure, completely designed and owned by Google has no equal. Did you know that ⅓ of all internet traffic flows through the Google network? Where other cloud providers are a patchwork of different data centres and ISP’s, each Google data centre is designed and built by Google to deliver great performance. Together with very competitive prices, unique services and product offerings, we decided that Google Cloud is our tool of choice and invest heavily in understanding every detail and ability of it. Google is one of the major 3 global Cloud providers. Though it might be the best-kept secret in the African market, for now. 

Any latest news from your company?

In December our technical team in Kenya worked amazingly hard to build a platform for Dutch people to celebrate New Year’s Eve from home. With 250+ artists joining in by offering live streams we have been able to reach +650k people that joined in on new year’s eve to celebrate New Year together. Built in about 3.5 weeks by a small team, of course using Google Cloud. Intense, but fun and very rewarding to work on.

www.incentro.com/en-ke/

Incentro has these vacancies:

[Vacancy] Incentro is looking for a Workspace Support Agent in Nairobi

[Vacancy] Incentro is looking for a Mid-level Google Cloud specialist in Nairobi

[Poste vacant] Incentro recherche un agent de support pour l’espace de travail à Nairobi

[Kenya] Businesses to increase spending on cloud services by over 50% in 2021

Enterprises in Kenya are set to increase their expenditure on cloud computing services by 68 per cent in 2021 up from 38 per cent in 2020. This is according to the “Africa in the Cloud 2020” study by World Wide Worx conducted among eight African countries.

The study notes that 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 per cent with South Africa leading with an 82 per cent increase in cloud uptake.

“Businesses that had digitally transformed their operations recorded a 71 per cent increase in productivity, compared to their counterparts who had not done so and only achieved 21 per cent increase in productivity,” stated Arthur Goldstruck, a media analyst and commentator on ICT, mobile communications and technologies.

The Banking and Manufacturing sectors, recorded the highest spend on cloud services adoption with 53 per cent and 46 per cent respectively. Mr. Goldstruck added that going by the data from the study, it is evident that digital transformation in Africa is on the rise and organizations’ priority on cloud spend, is proof of it. 63% of the companies interviewed in the study indicated their top reasons for cloud adoption as driving business efficiency followed by operational flexibility and customer service which averaged at 53 per cent and 45 per cent respectively. Additionally, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of things and Big Data were noted as other business trends of priority to organizations in various sectors in the next three years. Their significance, ranked 80 per cent and above in the majority of the countries in the study. The key industry sectors keen on adopting the tech trends highlighted were Manufacturing, Insurance and Financial Services, Information Technology, Non-Governmental and Non-Profit Organizations and Banking.

“Digital awakening is no longer a choice but a necessity for the new future,” added Mr. Goldstruck.

Speaking during the session, Ms. Deirdre Fryer, Head of Solutions Engineering- SYSPRO Africa indicated that creating competitive advantage, creating new business models and improving customer experience are the 3 focus areas businesses should take into consideration when determining what they want to achieve from their digital transformation journey.  “We have seen a substantial digital awakening in Africa and if businesses adopt digital transformation in the mentioned focus areas, they are bound to greatly benefit and remain competitive in their respective sectors, stated Ms. Fryer.

Organizations such as Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS) and Synresins, whose CEOs Jane Masiga and Mira Shah were present at the meeting, use SYSPRO’s ERP solution and other cloud business solutions to automate the majority of their operations, ranging from supply chain management to customer care. They both indicated that despite the perceived high cost of digitization, the cost benefits outweigh the initial cost of adoption.

www.syspro.com

[Kenya] Safaricom to accelerate cloud adoption in with Amazon Web Services

Safaricom has announced a strategic agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS), which will see the Telco become a reseller of AWS services.

Safaricom has announced a strategic agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS), which will see the Telco become a reseller of AWS services.

The agreement is designed to accelerate Safaricom’s internal IT transformation, lower costs and provide it with a blueprint and skilled resources to assist customers with their journey to the cloud.

“We chose to partner with AWS because it offers customers the broadest and deepest cloud platform, overall commitment to security excellence, and a strong culture of customer obsession. This agreement will allow us to accelerate our efforts to enable digital transformation in Kenya,” said Michael Joseph, Chief Executive Officer, Safaricom.

In addition, Safaricom will be able to offer AWS services to East-African customers, allowing businesses of all sizes to quickly get started on AWS cloud and accelerate innovation.

Safaricom also announced the attainment of Advanced Consulting Partner status in the AWS Partner Network (APN), becoming one of the first APN members in East Africa. The APN is the global partner program for technology and consulting businesses who leverage AWS to build solutions and services for customers.

The APN helps companies build, market, and sell their AWS offerings by providing valuable business, technical, and marketing support. This achievement recognizes the skills, knowledge and experience in AWS cloud services that the Safaricom PLC team has gained.

Safaricom’s announcement to work with AWS has been met with interest by customers, with enterprises, startups, and government agencies expressing a desire to use the partnership to build their cloud strategy.

www.safaricom.co.ke

[Kenya] CloudHop inks deal with Nasdaq Governance Solutions to provide clients with solution that enhances corporate governance

Cloud solutions provider in Kenya, CloudHop, has partnered with Nasdaq Governance Solutions, a business of Nasdaq Inc. to provide its clients in Eastern Africa with access to Nasdaq Boardvantage®, a board portal and collaboration software solution.

Nasdaq Boardvantage allows boards and leadership teams to work together more efficiently, productively, and strategically.

For the corporate secretary, general counsel and meeting administrators, the platform offers an exceptionally flexible, secure and user-friendly interface to help increase productivity during and in between meetings.

For board directors and senior executives, the solution helps manage critical tasks inside and outside the boardroom with biometric ID sign-on, intuitive notification, and collaboration tools.

Nasdaq built the platform with industry-standard encryption and multi-factor authentication to protect a user’s most sensitive information.

“We pride ourselves in helping our customers put smart to work with the best of breed applications. We are therefore delighted to be partnering with Nasdaq on this groundbreaking solution that will without doubt transform how corporates manage their corporate governance function,” said Mr Keval Shah, Co-CEO, Cloudhop.

“We are encouraged by the demand across East Africa for our board portal and collaboration technology and are pleased to partner with CloudHop to engage with governance professionals in the region who are seeking new ways to enhance their corporate governance practices,” said Mr Mike Bartels, President, Nasdaq Governance Solutions.

Nasdaq Boardvantage is recognized as a 2019 American Business Awards Bronze Stevie Winner for Sales & Customer Service; 2018 American Business Awards Gold Stevie Award Winner for Best New Product of the Year, Bronze Stevie Award Winner for Software Customer Service Department of the Year, and Bronze Stevie Award Winner for Front-Line Customer Service Team of the Year; 2018 RiskTech 100 Category Winner for Operational Risk & GRC; and 2018 6th Annual Best in Biz Awards International Winner.

www.cloudhop.it

www.nasdaq.com

[Kenya] KETRACTO digitizes procurement processes with SAP Ariba Cloud

In a bid to improve its operations and in compliance with presidential directive and government requirements, Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited, KETRACO, has digitized its procurement processes via an e-procurement platform powered by SAP Ariba Cloud. 

This second phase of an end-to-end automation of tendering, supplier management and contracts process will see tenders and quotations submitted and processed online for efficiency, accountability and transparency. This process is 100% Paperless.

Open and secret tenders, Request for Proposals (RFP) and Request for Quotations (RFQ) will be advertised through the government portals, KETRACO websites and in newspapers. All interested Bidders/ Suppliers will be required to submit their documentation online. The tenders will then be received, evaluated and awarded online.

In the first phase of the implementation that went live in April this year, the company automated ‘procure to pay’ operations by on boarding suppliers to the SAP Ariba network to start transacting electronically. Purchase Requests, Local Purchase Orders, invoices and payment of goods/ services were processed online in the ‘procure to pay’ operation.

Speaking during the go live event, KETRACO’s Managing Director FCPA Fernandes Barasa noted that over 260 suppliers have registered on the Ariba network and continue to transact with KETRACO in a paperless environment for Purchase order and invoice submission and processing and are ready to move the entire tendering process.

‘’Supplier registration and qualification has now been made available online. The youth and the special groups will be submitting their registration applications online and will be on boarded immediately. ‘’ He noted.

This automation has been made possible by SAP Ariba, a leading global provider of collaborative business commerce solutions which allows suppliers to easily extend their back-end systems and processes to benefit from electronic transactions.

Pedro Guerreiro, Managing Director for SAP Central Africa adds, “Two years ago Kenya’s leading electricity transmission company implemented SAP’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System and shortly after, won Gold at the SAP Quality Awards. Today, we are thrilled to yet again be a part of Ketraco’s continued digital transformation journey with the adoption of our Ariba e-procurement software solutions.  By streamlining business operations and connecting to Ariba’s +4.2 million companies, Ketraco has established a solid foundation for tomorrow’s Intelligent Enterprise, pointing to a bright and innovative future for the organisation, its staff and customers.”

www.ketraco.co.ke

www.sap.com

[Column] David Bunei: Next-generation cloud eliminates pain points for Kenyan business

In addition to experiencing our new brand look in person, business leaders who attended the recent Oracle Modern Cloud Day in Nairobi had the opportunity to experience the full potential unlocked by cloud-embedded technology.

On a greater societal level, cloud technologies are at the heart of concepts like smart or green cities where available resources are optimized and systems integrated for the benefit of all citizens. Businesses too can achieve unprecedented all-round efficiency enabled by cloud services. The recent Cloud Day event in Kenya was an opportunity for us to showcase Oracle’s latest innovation across cloud applications and cloud infrastructure.

With a 30-year presence in, and commitment to, Africa, Oracle is bringing these, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) enriched innovations to Kenya as part of their global rollout. Companies that have already invested in previous generations of the technology will automatically receive the upgrades through patches. For all Kenyan organisations, though – whether already Oracle customers or not – Oracle’s Generation 2 Cloud infrastructure and the new features that use it as their foundation, will help prepare an agile, secure and cost effective infrastructure that will allow the business to consistently innovate and grow in the digital economy.

Cloud can help reduce costs

One of the key challenges facing Kenyan businesses is the cost of doing business. Although cloud adoption is considered an IT strategy to reduce expenses, it has overarching repercussions for any business, especially in the digital age. A shift to cloud liberates companies from tech refresh cycles and CAPEX investment to support their on-premise systems. Whether transitioning critical or non-essential applications to the cloud, Oracle customers pay only for resources that are consumed.

More importantly, cloud-based systems are especially beneficial for companies operating in, or expanding beyond, Kenyan borders. In the case of Oracle, customers enjoy consistent pricing in all regions, so cross-border expansion does not lead to any cost increases. This way, customers can access world-class cloud services and their own fully integrated enterprise management systems no matter where their market aspirations take them. The expansion of the Oracle Universal Cloud Credits system announced at OpenWorld 2019, also enables businesses to further optimise their operational expenditure.

Organisations are often hesitant to shift to cloud given their use of business systems and technologies from various providers. Apart from the complication of wholesale data transfer, there is the cost associated with such an undertaking. Strategic partnerships are becoming more common as cloud enters its next stage, helping to streamline the process. Having already announced a cloud interoperability partnership with Microsoft in June, three months later, Oracle OpenWorld revealed a partnership with VMware, where customers can now more easily move and run VMware environments on Oracle Cloud.

Creating data-driven customer centricity

As elsewhere, data security remains a key concern for Kenyan businesses, along with the use of data to enhance the customer experience. Embedded in next-generation cloud services, automation, AI and ML can be leveraged to mine insights that will improve time to market and provide greater predictability in delivering the right customer services at the right time. Already, Oracle has partnered with the Kenya Revenue Authority to provide a more responsive and relevant service to their customers, translating into better brand reputation.

One final point to make is that cloud migration is an ongoing journey, for our customers and Oracle itself. One of the major announcements at OpenWorld was Oracle’s plans to build a cloud region in South Africa. New Oracle Cloud regions are continually being launched – one every 23 days over the next 15 months or so – and our relationship with Microsoft opens the door to interconnecting with Azure data centres in more areas too.

Change takes time. While Oracle and other global players increase their investment in Africa, business decision-makers – who have expressed their enthusiasm about cloud’s potential – should seize every refresh opportunity at their organisation to explore what cloud solutions can do to introduce immediate business value.

David Bunei is the Managing Director for Oracle Kenya.

[Kenya] Oracle showcases its Cloud and Artificial Intelligence technology solutions

Oracle recently showcased its latest Cloud led digital solutions to top business and government leaders at the International Modern Business event in Nairobi. This according to the company is in line with its sustained commitment to help Kenya achieve its strategic socio-economic objectives as identified by the country’s Vision 2030 framework,

“Digital transformation is a key priority for Kenya’s public and private sector entities as organisations look to deliver transparent citizen services; drive business growth with high ROI; introduce new products and deliver an exceptional customer experience in a highly mobile and digital economy of the future”, said David Bunei, Managing Director of Oracle Kenya.

“At Oracle, we have delivered an incredible amount of innovation to our customers in Kenya including the Oracle Autonomous Database, AI embedded Business Applications and the Generation 2 cloud infrastructure.”

“The International Modern Business event is an opportunity for us to highlight the true impact of these technologies and showcase how Kenyan organisations can unlock unprecedented growth with cloud led digital transformation”, added David.

Oracle has recently announced plans to launch 20 new Oracle Cloud regions by the end of 2020, for a total of 36 Oracle Cloud Infrastructure regions. South Africa will host one of these cloud regions to support seamless cloud transition for customers across the African continent. Oracle has also recently unveiled the world’s first Autonomous Operating System; AI Voice for the enterprise and the world’s fastest database machine.

www.oracle.com