Ian McAlpine is the managing director for Business Connexion in Nigeria. He holds an MBA from Oxford Brooks University, an ITIL Foundation Certification, and an Institute of Marketing Management Diploma in Marketing Management. He has also completed the GIBS/UCS Senior Management Development Programme. McAlpine has been in the IT industry since 1998 and has gained a wealth of valuable experience in project management, client service management, business development, marketing, product development and procurement. Much of this experience has been at executive level and across various African territories; most recently, Ian served as Sales Director for multinational IT Services Company, where he was responsible for sales across the sub-Saharan region. He spoke to peter ugwu on the Company’s mission in Nigeria and other issues in the Nigerian and African IT market.
Business Connexion Mission in Nigeria
Our mission in Nigeria is to enrich communities by making the impossible possible, through technology.
We have a passion for making a difference in people’s lives and we thrive on making the seemingly impossible happen.
We do this by delivering exceptional value propositions to our stakeholder communities whether it is business communities, consumer communities, citizen communities or geographical communities.
The Business Connexion Group is an African based ICT company with over 7000 employees.
We operate in many countries in Africa. We have been in operation in Nigeria for over 5 years, employing more than 140 people and have made significance investment in empowering infrastructures.
We launched our locally hosted cloud offering a year ago and are delivering fully-functional, leading-edge cloud platforms and services into the Nigerian market and out of Nigeria.
Plans for Small Scale Businesses
Nigeria has a well-established and sophisticated Enterprise market and a very large Small Medium Enterprise market that is well positioned to deliver value to their customers.
Lack of infrastructure and IT systems could be an inhibiter for growth. They require collaborative services; proper emailing, document management and seamless integrated communication.
We also believe that the market has quickly adopted the concept of cloud computing. The two offerings launched at the start of last year are Infrastructure as a Service (computing on demand) for storage, Disaster Recovery and enhancing capacity and Software as a Service.
The Cloud Service Broker model we have deployed allows for fully automated self-provisioning of services as well as an integrated payment gateway.
Cloud Computing Adoption in The Market
Looking at the measures we have adopted, the same level of security we provide for our large customers, we replicate that in other sectors.
This is not just in Nigeria; it is in the character of our Company to offer our customers the ultimate and authentic security, because that is how businesses’ confidence can grow. We are not providing the services from outside the shores of the country; we have made the investments in building the infrastructure in Nigeria.
We are taking a different approach. People sometimes question the security of Cloud offerings but, in many instances use the rudimentary email services provided by the likes Yahoomail, Gmail, etc., those emails are not hosted in Nigeria, rather in the cloud all over the world.
However, our offerings are ultimately indigenous. So, people are already used to it, but we are making a difference in the sense we have localized the cloud computing.
Plans for Data Centre
We are hosting the solution in a state of the art Tier III data centre located in Ikeja, Lagos. We are also able to offer colocation rackspace in the data centre for the hosting of private cloud infrastructure.
Business Connexion listed as a Gartner Cool Vendor for providing innovative IT solutions
Business Connexion has made the list of Gartner Cool Vendors in Emerging Markets Worldwide for 2013. This is for its innovative products and services relating to data, cloud services, software infrastructures, applications and outsourcing.
Each year Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company identifies new Cool Vendors in key technology areas and publishes a series of research reports highlighting these innovative vendors and their products and services.
ICT businesses who transform the way businesses operate and get consumers to engage with technology are what Gartner calls Cool Vendor. According to Gartner, “Cool Vendors in 2013 are exploiting the Nexus of Forces of cloud computing, social, mobile, and information to challenge long-held assumptions and significant investments in traditional ICT.
As Africa’s largest provider of data centre and customised cloud computing services, Business Connexion’s title as a Cool Vendor reinforces its services and innovations and the continued impact they have in Emerging Markets.
The Cool Vendors report was started in 2004, and has since profiled more than 1,800 Cool Vendors.
Focus On Africa
We believe in this market and have seen the future as bright. If you look at other markets, majority of them are established with relatively low growth rates.
Looking at Africa and the opportunities and growth rates, Business Connexion found them tremendous. Any company thinking of growing its businesses exponentially will think Africa. At the same time, our focus hangs on our motives for skills development in the markets.
Aside that, we are providing platforms that will stimulate new businesses and innovations. We believe that Africa will need to rapidly close the digital divide.
It is not about trying to catch up with the rest of the world, it is about being able to leapfrog ahead in a way that is dynamic, innovative and cost effective.
I believe that the driver for cloud will come from this requirement. Cloud allows you to be dynamic and accessible. Cloud allows you to function straightaway.
I think the focus on cloud is all about how it is an enabler, the potential in the economy and breaking of barriers.
Trends In The Nigerian Market
For us the shift is away from providing predominantly commodity based technology solutions. It is no longer about buying technology and negotiating on price alone, to having value based discussions about technology being an enabler for future growth.
When we talk to our customers, we talk less about a particular technology, but rather about business vale. When we see the opportunities in the market, we ask ourselves how we can help our customers benefit from the opportunities that are presenting themselves.
How will they grow from that and what do they need to achieve that; it is about business discussions, and then the technology will follow.
In the age we are in, everything is possible with technology. If you have the right business focus and understand of how to best serve your customers, technology can be customized and deployed to support your strategy. You must understand your business first and not the other way round.
Is it not expected that every company should own a data centre or keep spending scarce resources on buying equipment.
As far as data management is concerned, we share the infrastructure and leverage on the benefits.
Local Content Development
If you look at our business, we have over 140 people working for us, and we look forward to employing far more.
Our philosophy has always been to introduce new technology and offerings and to employ and train staff locally to deliver these offerings.
We are creating the atmosphere of running Nigerian business with Nigerians. We have seen significant outputs in our skills development strategy.
Also, if you look at the technology trends, there is a skills shortage, globally. So we have to develop the skills to tackle local challenges.
Business Connexion, however, treasures the development of appropriate skills; people who can compete at the international technological level.
BCX 2014 Expectations
This market, and Africa as a whole, has witnessed tremendous improvements and growth. We see Nigeria becoming the biggest economy in Africa, capable of taking over from South Africa. In fact, our next biggest operation, after South Africa is Nigeria.
Our vision in the short term is for Nigerian potentials to be harnessed for the growth of businesses and the economy.
It is unimaginable how significant the information technology sector would rub-off on the economy.
Most of the Nigerian government revenue comes from the oil & gas, but we have seen a lot of potentials in other sectors like the manufacturing, retail industry, agriculture, mining, et cetera. We feel the sectors will thrive better as technology permeates their operations.
Expectations from Governments
Certainly, the government has shown its commitment to closing the digital divide with the adoption of the new broadband plan.
We are happy with the policy, because it is what the industry needs at this point. Essentially, it will help in addressing the infrastructure challenges.
The measure will definitely reassure investors of government’s concern, especially when implemented.
Also, we have different cables coming into the country; four are already there with the fifth coming on board.
The challenge has been on how to provide last mile connectivity. Obviously, where we are seeing the future is on wireless and mobile, yet there is need for easy-to-connect fiber network. However and ultimately the stride will help telecom companies work together.
A situation where different companies are laying different cables almost on the same spots does not make business sense. You cannot achieve success or values by working separately.
There must be a structure that enables collaborations. The other area I think government is focusing on is how to make the market attractive for technology growth.
It is on that ground that companies like ours would see the efforts of developing local talents pay off; a situation where locally developed applications solve local needs.
Plans For Acquisitions
Business Connexion is notable for its acquisition strategies. Our goals are targeted at enhancing the business level of any entity we acquired. So, in 2014, we are hopeful on acquiring more businesses.
It may be in the form companies’ developed applications, specifically, for a particular market.
NCC Threatens Illegal Users of GSM Boosters with Arrest, Prosecution
Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has warned telecom consumers to desist from using illegal GSM boosters.
The commission also said that anyone caught using a GSM booster without obtaining approval of a duly licensed network operator will face arrest and prosecution.
GSM boosters are devices that transmit and receive telecommunications signals and can therefore interfere with other radio frequency equipment.
Ikechukwu Adinde, director, public affairs, NCC, said in a notice published on NCC website, that only licensed network operators are allowed to use GSM boosters.
The booster, also known as amplifier or repeater is made up of three main elements – exterior antenna, amplifier, and interior antenna.
They form a wireless system to boost cellular reception
“Members of the public should note that, willful interference with any wireless telegraphy is an offence under Section 16 of the Telegraphy Act, 2004,”it said
The agency said it will not condone any flagrant breach of this law.
It has also enforced measures to prosecute offenders.
Accordingly, monitoring mechanisms have been put in place and anyone caught using a GSM booster without obtaining approval of a duly licensed network operator will face arrest and prosecution.
“Any member of the public with useful information regarding the illegal use of GSM Boosters should contact the Commission on 09-4617000/7351 or send an email to [email protected],” the notice said.
“Individuals desirous of using GSM Boosters should note that they can only do so in conjunction with licensed network operators,” it added.
Tizeti Selects Nokia to Provide LTE Fixed Wireless Access Solution for High-Speed internet Services in Nigeria
Tizeti announced that it selected Nokia’s Fastmile Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology to enable usprovide superior internet services to over 1 Million subscribers in Port Harcourt, Edo and Ogun in Nigeria.
Tizeti will deploy Nokia’s AirScale Base Station TDD-LTE and FastmileFixed Wireless Access (FWA) gatewaysto deliver premium internet and Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to Residential, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The solution will also enable Tizeti’sto deliver a more robust, high-speedinternet service to subscribers and the flexibility to seamlessly evolve to 5G Fixed Wireless Access when needed.
Nokia’s FWA solution enables Tizeti to fast-track broadband access and provide a best-in-class broadband experience to its subscribers.
Nokia’sAirScale Base Stations ensure high-quality connectivity and coverage and enablesTizeti to evolve the network in line with customer demand.
Nokia’sFastmilegateways connect wirelessly to the existing network to createa fastbroadband connection and enhanced Wi-Fi experience in the home.
The Nokia Network Services Platform will help Tizeti to simplify operations and quickly respond to changing market demands.
Kendall Ananyi, Tizeti, said:“We are committed to providing the best-in-class network experience to our subscribers. We are confident that Nokia’s proven technology and expertise will help us differentiate our services based on quality. This a crucial project for us as it introduces LTE in our networks and allows us to bring new and innovative services to our subscribers.”
Eniola Balogun, Nokia, said:“We are thrilled to work with Tizeti on the initiative to upgrade their network to bring the latest products and services to its subscribers. Nokia Fastmile will help Tizeti to cost-effectively enhance the customer experience.
The project will also enable them to delight their subscribers by providing more reliable data services.
On the other hand, Tizeti will benefit by adding new revenue streams.”
Risk Assets Push Higher on Vaccine Hopes; Eyes on the Fed
By Hussein Sayed, Chief Market Strategist at FXTM,
After two consecutive weeks of back-to-back declines, global stocks kicked off Monday with solid gains amid a surge in M&A activity and positive signs towards vaccine developments. Currency markets were little changed ahead of a busy week of monetary policy announcements, while Oil and Gold ticked slightly higher.
The two big deals announced over the weekend were Softbank’s plan to sell chipmaker ARM to Nvidia for more than $40 billion and Gilead Sciences to acquire Immunomedics for a price tag of $21 billion. Meanwhile, on the vaccine front, AstraZeneca resumed its phase-3 trial on Covid-19 after being suspended last week following a neurological illness developed in one participant, and Pfizer announced that its vaccine could be distributed before year-end if found safe and effective.
Central Banks will take centre stage this week with the Federal Reserve, Bank of England and Bank of Japan all due to announce policy decisions. Out of the three meetings, the Fed is likely to be the most watched following its historic shift towards average inflation targeting. The big question remains how will the FOMC put this policy into action?
From what we know now, the Fed is set up to keep interest rates near zero for a long time, possibly for several years. Given the new framework, any spike in inflation won’t translate into immediate rate hikes as the Fed wants to compensate for the lost years when they have failed to hit the target. The dot plot will be the key guide for investors and traders alike. If inflation projections remain at 2% or below for the foreseeable future, this will solidify market expectations for a low rate environment for many years to come. That said, Jay Powell would still have to explain in more detail how the new framework will be translated into policy action.
In June’s economic projections, the Fed anticipated unemployment would be at 9.3% by year-end, but, in August, unemployment was well below that forecast at 8.4%. Many other economic data surprised to the upside during the June – August period in a clear sign that most economists were overly pessimistic towards the strength of the recovery. However, there is still a considerable amount of uncertainty given the latest surge in Covid-19 cases worldwide and the US, especially as we get closer into the winter season. A second wave will undoubtedly put the recovery at risk in the final quarter of the year and it will be interesting to see the Fed’s view on that issue.
As for the market selloff over the past two weeks, the Fed isn’t likely to show any signs of concern. In fact, policymakers should be satisfied with the pullback as the risk of a bubble in several assets has been growing due to the Fed’s extremely accommodative policies. Unless we see another 10 -15% drop, do not expect the Fed to intervene.
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