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Digital Infrastructure in Africa to Witness Boost Post Pandemic – Coker

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COVID-19 pandemic has opened doors to new ways of communications in the face of lockdown of cities. As a result organisations have embrace working remotely which before now were used by few. Today, workplace software providers such as Microsoft, Google and Zoom witness increased demand for their work-from-home services.

According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, Microsoft Teams reached a new daily record of 2.7 billion minutes of use in one day, representing a 200% increase from 900 million minutes on 16 March.

Against this backdrop that Ayotunde Coker, managing director, Rack Centre, a data centre service provider explores the lockdown situation and the benefits it provides for the growth technology infrastructure in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

Looking at how the world will look like post-COVID-19, Coker said: “One thing is clear, global technology has shown the capacity to be elastic and to scale.

“Working from home will be more accepted. But I don’t think it is just going to be working from home. There is something I call Semi-flex office locations. Imagine someone traveling from Agege to a contact centre somewhere on the Island which is about three hours traveling (due to traffic situations), you will find semi-flex office locations about half an hour into the journey and walk in, put your laptop down and with your headphone you connect to the contact centre and perform some routine due to the exigencies of your assignment. So, you are kind of working from home but from a semi-flex location.”

He said that outsourcing will ensure business sustenance. “Over the years we have been explaining to companies the need to focus on their core-business areas and outsource the none-core areas. Lessons learnt now will reinforce and deliver that value.

“EduTech will gain momentum. Children are working and studying at home now because they have been sent home due to COVID-19. What they require now is the data to follow their lectures online. Universities in the UK and US have been doing this for ages.

“In-country, we have the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) where most of the courses are online. So, we are going to see a change in the way we interact with our educational institutions.

On healthcare technologies, Coker said it will receive massive attention.  “We now have high quality video augmented reality interaction with experts anywhere in the world; remote key control non-intrusive technologies are now being done by interaction through technology with our doctors in Nigeria.

“Quick consultation of experts will become normal; you can consult with all your patients before you travel to a place. So, by the time you see the patients they have been pre-consulted. This will save significant amount in health tourism.

“We are moving to an era where digital conferencing becomes normal; you don’t have to travel thousands of miles to attend a conference. You start to use augmented reality (AR) for you to virtual visit a stand of a company and interact.

“Docusign digital and blockchain technology will reach a new level of acceptability and use where contracts, agreements, real estate businesses, etc., will be enabled through technology.

“Internet Exchange volume will grow significantly and the world will become more digitally connected on the information super-highway.

“Data centre and technologies will now move to the Edge because businesses will not tolerate latency; the volume of data will be such that you will have to be on the Edge to get closer to the point of use.

“One of the things we have been doing is ensuring that customers with us continue to operate and I am glad that we are able to ensure that. Secondly, we are moving and doing our bit of making sure that Nigeria and our location is supporting the digital technology for West Africa. It is certainly a leading point for digital infrastructure in Africa.”

According to him, “global supply chain will change and it is a benefit for Africa. Most countries will embrace changes; enabling digital process and key changes that support ease-of-doing business. We have a good geo-physical location. For us it is not just going digital but how we optimize how we plug in to the global supply chain. And I think it is a great opportunity for us to embrace”.

He noted that it will be interesting to see how the new normal changes how we bring the information super-highway to the good old super-highway. “How we optimize relationship of the new technology with the established technologies, because we have to strike a good balance. And I believe that the balance we strike will be much more optimal in the way we drive things forward.

Speaking on the operations of his firm, Coker disclosed that Rack Centre had since doubled its capacity and had put infrastructure in place that would help organizations host their data locally to have access to their data from a remote location, without physically appearing at the data centre, a situation, he said, would boost efficiency and reduce costs of operation.

He said the innovation from Rack Centre has helped it to engage and have connections to over 35 of its major carriers and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Nigeria, Tier 1 networks, pan African international carriers, and direct connection to all five undersea cables serving the South Atlantic Coast of Africa, and that every country on the Atlantic coast of Africa is directly connected to Rack Centre. He claimed that despite the lockdown, Rack Centre business is still up and running.


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Jumia Partners Reckitt Benkiser, Nokia, Others to Enable Consumers Access Quality Products

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Jumia has launched a Brand Festival campaign in partnership with top global brands such as Reckitt Benkiser, Unilever, Nokia, Intel, HP, Nexus, Hisense, Sharp, Samsung, Binatone, XIAOMI, ABSOLUT, Dettol, and Logitech.

The campaign which is scheduled to run from September 21st to 27th, will provide consumers access to top quality products directly from the manufacturers, eliminating all third parties, thereby reducing the cost of the products, which will enable consumers to save money.

Jumia Nigeria CEO, Massimiliano Spalazzi, said: “The aim of the campaign is to enable our consumers to save more money while getting the best quality products directly from the brand manufacturers. Consumers today are more conscious of the quality of the product they buy on Jumia, and at the same time want to save money while shopping.

In the wake of COVID-19, we have continued to strive to operate so that consumers can continue to stay at home, use e-commerce to shop, and stay safe in this trying time. We are proud to partner with Unilever, Nokia and other top brands as part of our commitment to provide customers easy access to quality products directly from the manufacturers at best prices.

Head of Key Accounts and e-Commerce at Reckitt Benckiser Nigeria Ltd, Afam Onwordi, stated that: “We have enjoyed a good and healthy relationship with Jumia in the last couple of years.

“As our fight in RB is making access to the highest quality hygiene, wellness and nourishment a right and NOT a privilege, we would therefore always seize the opportunity of every major event like this (Brand Festival) to reward our consumers with interesting offers and deals across our wide range of products.”

Senior Business Manager at HMD Global, Emmanuel Ossai, said: “For us at HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, we are very excited to be supporting Jumia on this festival for authentic brands in Nigeria.

“We have a commitment to continuously deliver value and believe that this partnership will afford Nigerians more opportunities to enjoy the beauty of quality hardware and the secure Android experience that we offer across our range of Nokia smartphones.

“Interestingly, we have new exciting devices that will be unveiled to our Nigerian customers in the coming weeks and we cannot wait for you to have a feel of hardware magic carefully combined with software excellence. So, keep watching this space.”


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TikTok Picks Oracle to Provide ‘Secure’ Cloud Tech

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Enterprise software giant Oracle announced that it has been chosen to become TikTok’s “secure” cloud technology provider.

According to Oracle, this technical decision by TikTok was heavily influenced by Zoom’s recent success in moving a large portion of its video-conferencing capacity to the Oracle Public Cloud.

Oracle’s announcement comes after TikTok parent ByteDance last week said it will not be selling the video-sharing app’s US operations to software giant Microsoft.

This after US president Donald Trump signed an executive order on 6 August, blocking all transactions with ByteDance in an effort to address “national emergency” issues.

On 14 August, the US president issued an order that gave ByteDance 90 days to divest the US operations of TikTok.

Since then, US companies such as Microsoft and Oracle have been lining up as potential buyers for the popular short video app.

As the trade war between the US and China rages on, the US government has accelerated its efforts to purge Chinese apps and technology companies that it deems untrustworthy.

Trump and his administration raised national security issues, alleging the Chinese-owned company will share sensitive user data with the Chinese government.

“TikTok picked Oracle’s new Generation 2 Cloud infrastructure because it’s much faster, more reliable, and more secure than the first generation technology currently offered by all the other major cloud providers,” says Oracle chief technology officer Larry Ellison.

“In the 2020 Industry CloudPath survey that IDC recently released where it surveyed 935 infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) customers on their satisfaction with the top IaaS vendors including Oracle, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM and Google Cloud…Oracle IaaS received the highest satisfaction score.”

“As a part of this agreement, TikTok will run on the Oracle Cloud and Oracle will become a minority investor in TikTok Global,” says Oracle CEO Safra Catz.

“Oracle will quickly deploy, rapidly scale and operate TikTok systems in the Oracle Cloud. We are 100% confident in our ability to deliver a highly secure environment to TikTok and ensure data privacy to TikTok’s American users, and users throughout the world.

“This greatly improved security and guaranteed privacy will enable the continued rapid growth of the TikTok user community to benefit all stakeholders.”


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Inq. Acquires Vodacom’s Business in Nigeria, Others

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inq. Holdings Limited, artificial intelligence service provider, has acquired Vodacom Business Africa’s operations in Nigeria, Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire.

Inq. Acquires Vodacom’s Business in Nigeria, Others

It plans further acquisition in Cameroon subject to regulatory approvals.

Mr. Valentine Chime, managing director, inq. Holdings Limited, said the 100 per cent acquisition of the Vodacom Business Africa’s operations in the three countries was in pursuit of the company’s dream of building pan-African network that will help in creating better future through digital solutions.

Domiciled in Mauritius, inq. Holdings Limited is a subsidiary of Convergence Partners Communications Infrastructure Fund, a fund dedicated solely to communications infrastructure and related services and technologies across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Formerly known as Synergy Communications, the latest acquisition has grown inq.’s regional footprint with operations in 12 cities in seven countries across Africa. It has existing operations in Botswana, Malawi and South Africa with an additional investment in Mozambique.

“Under the inq. banner the company will embark on the next phase of building a unified Pan-African cloud and digital service provider, bringing to market a very relevant suite of next generation technology solutions in the fields of Edge AI, SD-WAN/NFV and Cloud,”Chime said.

According to him, with operations in major African cities of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Gaborone, Lusaka, Ndola, Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Abidjan and Johannesburg, the inq. team prides itself on global best practice methodologies customised to local customs in each of the 16 cities, covering different sectors including banking, oil and gas, fast moving consumer goods, mining, health, real estate, information technologies, public sector and logistics.

“Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation, and inq. is perfectly positioned to deliver intelligent connectivity through seamless delivery of cloud and digital services and  technologies to our clients. We are about simpler, seamless solutions,” Chime said.

 

 


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