Operating As a New-Age Telco for Africa Through Strategic System Decision
By Steve Briggs
July 22, 2019
Key to being a new-age telco is listening to what customers are saying. Worldwide, we are functioning in an age where customers are increasingly knowledgeable around technology and connectivity, with people in touch with what they need and want, which includes superior customer service. Despite its pivotal role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the connectivity sphere is no different from any other business sector when it comes to profitability challenges and a hyper-competitive environment. Yet, as with any industry, engaging with customers, listening and orientating business decisions towards their empowerment, returns dividends for all parties.
As one of the leading private telcos operating on the African continent, SEACOM has adopted this approach to better serve local business customers with an appetite for high-quality connectivity – and the emerging technologies that hinge on it.
The African context
There’s no question that Africa is playing catch-up in the arena of telecoms, with longstanding infrastructure barriers to overcome, along with government attitudes that have been slow to warm to sector privatisation. That has changed, though, over the past decade or so, with governments in countries like Kenya, South Africa and Ethiopia prioritising ICT development and access to broadband Internet as a key enabler of socio-economic upliftment for their nations.
With such positive developments and receptiveness to private investment, telcos are operating in a local environment rich in opportunity. As a result, providers’ strategy and moves regarding their own growth and investment decisions, can tap into this enthusiasm. Even better is to have measures in place already to meet demand as it emerges.
Cloud comes to the continent, with localised providers
For example, on 6 March this year, enterprise-grade Microsoft data centres finally launched in Johannesburg and Cape Town as Africa’s first Azure cloud regions. With media reports citing AWS plans for similar South African facilities in the first half of 2020, SEACOM took preparatory steps by expanding its national and continental footprint so that businesses in South Africa, and elsewhere on the continent, could enjoy the benefits of access to leading public cloud providers that now have local physical presences.
This “setting up shop” in Africa, of course, has helped to mitigate the security, territorial, latency and general compliance concerns that discouraged cloud adoption in the region in the past. And even for African businesses outside South Africa, connecting to data centres on the continent will still be faster and provide a more seamless experience than relying on computing power that is generated half a world away.