[Uganda] Mukwano Industries moves business systems to the cloud to boost efficiency, visibility

Mukwano Industries is one of the great success stories of the Ugandan business world.

From humble beginnings as a general dealer in Kampala in the 1980s, the company has grown into one of the leading FMCG conglomerates in East Africa, with interests that include manufacturing, agriculture and property development.

Its products, ranging from petroleum jelly and detergents to cooking oil and soap; from drinking water to household and commercial plastics; can be found in every home across Uganda.

The major challenge for the company was that its technology infrastructure had not kept pace with its growth. It had implemented SAP ECC 6.0 back in 2008, and the now dated platform was creating a host of issues: numerous custom developments, plant maintenance and operations not implemented, and an enduring dependency on paper-based systems and Excel spreadsheets.

“We had data everywhere, but information nowhere,” says Mukwano CEO Tony Gadhoke. “This meant we had low cost insights and a growing need for operational efficiencies. Something had to give. So we decided to shed our legacy systems and move our core business processes to the Cloud using the SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud platform. In doing so, we aimed to leverage Cloud capabilities to improve technical and operational agility, enhance real-time visibility across the business, harmonise data, improve reporting, and enable future growth and innovation.”

There was just one catch: the business insisted on a rapid implementation strategy to reduce the amount of time and resources needed, by around 35%, to implement the project. In effect, this meant replacing Mukwano’s core systems and training the necessary people to be able to go live, within five and a half months.

There were a couple of factors working in Mukwano’s favour: the company wanted a “best practices” SAP system, which meant minimal customisation time.

And partner iMark Technologies’ ‘zero fat’ approach to getting projects done, combined with Mukwano’s highly structured project management approach, ensured the implementation never deviated from its time scale for a moment.

“Apart from the incredibly tight timeframe for the implementation, our biggest challenge was that we were changing the organizational structure completely to align to the SAP system. This meant we had to ensure the right people were in the right positions. To ensure immediate buy-in and adoption of the new system by its users, we ran extensive training sessions every day, with ongoing monitoring of skill absorption, to ensure as high a level of ownership as possible,” said Gadhoke.

This meant cancelling all leave for the duration of the project – including over Christmas and New Year – to ensure every individual was onboard and the project didn’t deviate from the timeline. “It was tough, but we had no choice. There was no room for a redo, and we had to make sure we got it right first time,” said Gadhoke.

Ultimately, the effort was worth it, with the results of the implementation exceeding Mukwano’s already high expectations. In a first for Uganda, the business put its core business systems into the Cloud by the agreed deadline, with minimal disruption to the business.

The company has already seen significant gains in productivity and faster time to market. It has greater visibility into its operations than ever before, through an intuitive, unified platform from which it can oversee its business operations from end-to-end. It has also seen a ‘huge’ reduction in capex on its server infrastructure and IT resources.

Gadhoke said partner iMark Technologies’ experience in the digital transformation of organisations in the East African region was critical to the success of the project. S Iyer, the managing director of iMark, said: “It has been very exciting for us to see how organisations like Mukwano are realising the promise of digital transformation by leveraging SAP technologies and solutions to effect transformational change.

Mukwano has already been able to achieve significant progress in its operational excellence with S/4 HANA, thanks to the incredible analytics functionality that has been unlocked. “The next steps in our journey will be to focus on people performance and excellence. But we’re confident that we have the right platform in place to take the business to the next level,” said Gadhoke.

www.sap.com

CTI Africa selects Vonage to implement telehealth solution in Uganda

Vonage, a global business cloud communications company, has announced that eHealth platform provider CTI Africa Limited has chosen Vonage to power its LifeHealth telehealth system.

With Vonage’s Video API, CTI Africa Limited is bringing advanced telehealth capabilities to the developing world, providing rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa with high quality, affordable medical care and holistic solutions to address economic and social challenges.

Through the LifeHealth system, CTI Africa provides innovative digital health services to its medical insurance clients through a network of 150,000 patients, with more than 5,000 active monthly patients throughout Uganda. Powered by Vonage, LifeHealth provides subscribers with access to medical care via real-time video consultation and video chat wherever they are.

“When we launched the LifeHealth system, we knew we needed seamless, secure and real-time connectivity to provide patients with the best possible care,” said Michael Landau, Founder and CEO of CTI Africa Limited. “Vonage  provided us with the ability to build a solution specific to our unique needs that can also grow and adapt as our needs evolve. Our mission is to create the future of healthcare for the people of Uganda – together, CTI Africa and Vonage are creating a unique and powerful model for all developing countries facing these same challenges.”

“Vonage is honored that an organization like CTI Africa has chosen us to enable the life-changing solutions it is bringing to Uganda,” said Eric Le Guiniec, Global SVP – Communication APIs Sales for Vonage. “As the need for remote and virtual medical care increases, especially during these challenging times, we are proud that Vonage’s video  technology is helping to make healthcare available to those who need it most.”

As demand for solutions to enable virtual medical care has increased during the current global health crisis, usage of Vonage’s Video API has experienced significant growth over the last three months, especially in the telehealth, social and education industries, and has delivered more than 50 billion minutes of video since inception, across a virtually unlimited number of use cases. Vonage powers many of the world’s largest telemedicine providers. Vonage’s video has been a worldwide leader in webRTC video solutions since the webRTC standard was established in 2012.

For organizations like CTI Africa that need the benefit of video conferencing but also have complex compliance and security requirements, the programmability and flexibility of Vonage’s Video APIs enable embedded security measures to protect the privacy and security of patient information.

www.vonage.com

www.ctiafrica.com

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

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

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

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

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

Why is afriQloud important?

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

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

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

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

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

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


www.afriqloud.com

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

[Uganda] Raxio signs Hamilton Cloud Services as first customer

Hamilton Cloud Services (HCS), Uganda’s first local cloud service provider and a subsidiary of Hamilton Telecom, has finalized an agreement to colocate their servers in Raxio Data Centre’s state-of-the-art, always-on data centre at the Kampala Industrial and Business Park, Namanve.

 Raxio announced its plans to construct Uganda’s first tier 3, carrier-neutral and cloud-neutral data centre in July 2018. Since the announcement, Raxio has completed feasibility studies, land acquisition and design works and is now in the process of finalizing earthworks, contractor procurements and the relevant regulatory approvals.

With the announcement HCS becomes Raxio’s first officially signed customer for service when Raxio opens its doors in October 2019.

Construction is set to start later this quarter. Raxio’s General Manager James Byaruhanga and Paul Nalikka, Director, Hamilton Telecom, flanked by Ahura Vianne Allan the CFO, signed for their respective organisations, at Raxio’s offices at Rwenzori Towers, Nakasero, Kampala.

“Today is an exciting day for Raxio. Not only are we proud to announce Hamilton as our first officially signed customer- but Hamilton is also a uniquely strategic kind of partner that will give other Raxio customers and opportunity to enjoy a seamlessly integrated data centre and local cloud service experience under one roof,” said Byaruhanga.

 “HCS will now operate their infrastructure in a failsafe, always-on environment provided by Raxio, protecting their business and that of their customers and supporting their growth ambitions. Among other services, the HCS cloud computing and backup service model uses cloud resources to protect applications and data from disruption caused by disasters on a payas-you-grow model that allows customers to stay ahead with access to cutting-edge hardware and/or software solutions.,” said Byaruhanga.

He added that the agreement with Hamilton, is proof of a “win-win model” that “enables especially start-ups, SMES and mid-sized businesses to overcome the obstacle of upfront capital investments and to reduce total cost of ownership on software, storage and backup infrastructure, into manageable monthly operational expenses that are scalable and on demand, thus avoiding costs associated with over-capacity.

“This is very exciting for us and the market and we couldn’t be any happier to have Hamilton on board,” he said. Local cloud service in a tier 3 data centre environment.

Commenting about the deal, Derrick Sebbaale, Chief Operating Officer, Hamilton Cloud Services, said the deal will make HCS, “pioneers in providing the biggest local cloud service in a tier 3 data centre environment in Uganda.”

“Our vision is to revolutionize businesses in Uganda by providing affordable cutting-edge technology solutions, which enable them to thrive and prosper in a globally competitive economy. Our services are delivered via hyper-converged cloud infrastructure; delivered, sold, and supported by DELL EMC, which will enable customers to run and host applications across private, public, dedicated and hybrid cloud environments. By hosting our equipment in Raxio’s data centre, we will be able to quickly scale up our services, without the high capex costs on infrastructure; which savings will be passed on to our customers,” he said.

He added the agreement with Raxio will not only reduce on the high costs as well as risks of hosting and storing data overseas but, it will also provide a 24/7 secure, accessible and dedicated platform to HCS clients.

Pay as you grow model is a game changer Sebbaale, called upon business owners, government decision makers and regulators to support the shift to cloud computing as “it is a game-changer with real and proven return on investment, manifested through new efficiencies, enhanced customer experiences and new business models, leading to accelerated revenue and productivity growth.”

Quoting a 2017/18 study by the National Informational Technology Authority (NITA), Sebbaale said that while 86.4% of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) had reported that cloud computing significantly reduces ICT related costs, to date, only 28.6% of all MDAs reported using cloud computing services.

 The study also reported that 80.5% of MDAs and 66.7% of Local Governments relied on local in-house capacity to host their applications and databases- only 48.1% of MDAs and 38.1% of Local Government reported keeping backups offsite.

“This landmark agreement between Raxio and Hamilton is a paradigm shift and answers all these issues- we are giving businesses in Uganda a reliable and secure pay-as-you-grow local cloud service, housed in a world-class tier 3 data centre under local laws, with local customerservice,” said Sebbaale. 25% discounts on early-bird offer Byaruhanga said that Raxio was offering an early-bird offer that offers up to 40% discount on core co-location fees to customers who sign between now and the end of February 2019.

“Any customer signing up between now and the end of February is entitled to a 25% discount and they will be able to carry this price on for the duration of their contract. For customers that take up more than 5 racks, they will be eligible for an additional 15% discount, meaning that customers can save up to 40% on the price they will have to pay when we open for business in September 2019,” he said.

www.raxio.co.ug

www.hamiltoniot.com