Digital and Cloud - Journey towards an Intelligent Africa

The ICT sphere has undergone distinct stages of evolution and has lately been focussing on going digital, which means shifting the paradigm from traditional business to an intelligent society.

Based on recent studies, Africa is the smallest market but also the fastest growing worldwide.

However, based on statistics from Hootsuite, Africa is a relatively distinctive continent with only 29 % of Internet penetration and 14 % active on social media.  Nonetheless, Africa is known to be the technological renaissance.

According to Weare social, 7 out of 10 of the world’s fastest growing companies are in Africa – the beginning of a trend that will give rise to new digital economies.

In 2016, GSMA has shown that 300+ hubs have emerged in the African Tech Start-up ecosystem. Investors are recognising the potential as well, and so, going digital is a strategic decision for any African enterprise.

The facets of a Digital Strategy

Digital strategy is generally best seen as a tripartite engagement between the Government as enablers, Carriers as promoters and Technology partners as solution providers in a win-win context.

It does not only boost macro-economic growth but also solves legacy enterprise or carrier issues in terms of time to market, shrinking traditional revenue streams, controlling costs, driving new revenues, monetizing investments, and achieving convergence.

These give birth to an ecosystem facilitating the lives of smart citizens.

Digital strategy has 2 facets:

  • Providing digital services which focusses on future of connectivity based products & services.
  • A bigger change within the organization which emphasizes on transforming existing paradigm to enhance customer experience via new digital services, focusing on business, process, and people.

Cloudification is a salient stepping stone towards the digital world, and the question for making the move is more a concern of when then why.

The benefits of digital

There are substantial benefits of digital versus the traditional way of conducting business, in the likes of improved efficiency, slimmer cost structure, faster time to market with focus on the customer, new services and openness.

Hence, cloud can be depicted as the stairway of digital strategy. The most optimal way to go about this change from legacy IT mode of operations to the digital world is by adopting a modular & converged cloud architecture.

That being said, choice of infrastructure is paramount to allow for future flexibility, scalability and evolution supporting all flavours of cloud, whether public, private, or hybrid.

Many enterprises including banks have adopted cloud by initially moving internal & non-business critical applications before shifting the critical applications.

Once gone through this initial phase, it’s the turn for the telecom network to be virtualized via NFV.

This phased approach is convenient to carriers and is also supported by vendors, but partnership options vary from case to case.

The most adopted option is to partner with a vendor of choice resulting in lower risks and costs in a revenue share model.

This represents an opportunity for carriers to transform their business model from being a traditional voice, data and VAS operator to a Cloud Service Provider while addressing data sovereignty and security concerns.

Forbes highlights that this is the moment to go digital and that digital business is everyone's business, hence, it is also the right moment for Africa.

Clear paybacks are present in embracing the paradigm shift and given the intense competition in the telecom arena, first movers have definite advantages.

Missing the train has drastic consequences in a competitive and fast-moving environment like Africa.

How Huawei is paving the way

Among many initiatives from HUAWEI, the main one revolves in establishing industry alliances.

In view of creating the right ecosystem in Africa, HUAWEI has joined hands with strategic partners to implement an OpenLab, in Johannesburg, which aims at promoting openness, collaboration, and shared success, which facilitates the development of digital and cloud, in the region and beyond.

Huawei is also making significant investments to accommodate this wave of change.

Specific compliance certifications to eliminate barriers for cloud adoption, in various verticals, are continuously being implemented.

Huawei has partnered with strategic carriers and Government in various African countries to build ‘National Data Centers’ allowing customer data to be kept within a geography and enabling customers to meet local data residency requirements.

Carriers represent a key link in the chain transformation and Huawei stands out as a strategic stakeholder to pave the way for an intelligent Africa, in adoption of cloud and Digital services.