May 19, 2020

Siemens: Digitalisation will develop Africa, not disrupt

South Africa
Polycarp Kazaresam
4 min
Siemens: Digitalisation will develop Africa, not disrupt

Siemens have conducted a African Digitalisation Maturity Report to better determine a digitalisation benchmark across South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia, along with key vertical industries – transport, manufacturing and energy.

CEO of Siemens Southern Africa Sabine Dall’Omo said the four countries were selected as some of the fastest growing economies in Africa, as well as having made great strides in ICT (Information and Communications Technology) adoption.

“Africa’s rapid urbanisation represents an immense opportunity for the extension of ICT and improvement of digital maturity to help urban hubs such as Johannesburg, Lagos, Nairobi and Addis Ababa cope with the influx of inhabitants.

“There is an opportunity for government as well as the private sector to roll out services for digital access and use, exactly as they do with traditional basic services infrastructure,” said Dall’Omo.

For us, digitalisation means using new technologies like data analytics, the cloud and the Internet of Things to merge the virtual and real worlds. This enables us to offer our customers substantial productivity increases across their entire value chain, from design and engineering to sales, production and service.

In concrete terms, this means faster time-to-market, greater flexibility and enhanced availability of our products and systems for our customers.

In Africa, the challenge lies in applying digitalisation in the context of various macro-economic factors such as regulation and infrastructure,” said  Dall’Omo.

The report measures the extent to which each country has a business, legal and regulatory environment that supports and protects the development of digitalisation in key industries. This includes indicators such as the overall ease of doing business, the presence and regulation of ICT-related laws, the protection of intellectual property and evidence of ICT-related innovation and start-up activities.

Quality of infrastructure indicators include access to international bandwidth, mobile-network coverage, internet and mobile phone penetration and the costs of broadband and mobile-phone access.

Skills are another vital component of maturity. Siemens believe that digitalisation can bridge the blue and white collar worker, to create what is termed the ‘grey collar’ worker Dall’Omo added.

“This implies humans and machines not competing for jobs, but rather working together and creating the need for a new type of talent. The challenge is whether or not government and industry are investing enough into the development of these skills.”

Country Analysis

While the larger and more developed economies tend to be more digitally mature, the analysis shows there are many indicators that can influence a country’s ability to capitalise on digitalisation.  If done correctly, it can drive entrepreneurial competition in market. 

While Ethiopian and Kenyan economies are of a similar size and are growing at similar rates, Kenya is ahead in terms of digital maturity.  This is attributed to the country having far more extensive ICT infrastructure and mobile internet or 3G infrastructure to access and secondly because it is much more diverse and services-oriented economy, which typically drives the expansion of digital services.

Nigeria has a relatively undiversified trade profile beyond oil and is therefore highly reliant on imported technology, however it is benefitting from extensive investment in ICT, including 3G network coverage and is expanding into hardware manufacturing and software development. 

South Africa, with its relatively large and diverse economy and extensive, high quality mobile broadband infrastructure, remains the leader of the four countries in most areas. 

Industry Analysis

The manufacturing, energy and transport industries showed varied levels of maturity and was reviewed based on the culture of innovation, digital operations and digital customer offerings. 

Manufacturing was the most mature.  The adoption level of smart technologies that can accelerate the next industrial revolution, globally termed Industry 4.0, remain at a foundation stage. However, awareness of the significance and potential of this exponential technology is high.

In the energy sector, it is noted that without stable electricity it is challenging to do anything digitally.  Some of the main challenges facing the African power industry are related to unreliable generation capacity, costly transmission, limited skilled workforces and underdeveloped customer and billing management systems.

Digitalisation can assist in enabling decentralised power generation to work using alternate energy sources combined with intelligent grid management.

In the transport sector, new ways of using existing infrastructure more efficiently are being enabled through digitalisation.  The rail and road sectors need to move beyond electrification and automation to true digitalisation and focus on extending and integrating islands of excellence to solve the real mobility needs of citizens. 

Key recommendations from the report to accelerate digitalisation:

·         In an African context, disruptive technology drives development rather than disruption. Developed economy solutions are not necessarily going to work in more under-developed economies. In Africa, especially, true innovation comes from necessity.

·         Globalised digitalisation - conventional global views of digitalisation are being re-imagined for local-fit. Advanced technologies offer the opportunity to solve great socio-economic problems and should be considered in Africa’s diverse and developing countries.

·         Digitalisation in Africa is poised to happen in small isolated areas unless governments drive overarching policies to ensure consistency of standards.

African Business Review’s December issue is now live.

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Jun 16, 2021

NetNumber: Time for a cloud-native transformation

Virgin Mobile MEA
3 min
Matt Rosenberg, Chief Revenue Officer at NetNumber, discusses how cloud-native architecture is accelerating the transition to 5G for telcos

NetNumber is accelerating the transition in the telecom industry to 5G as it starts a shift to cloud-native architecture to address the fast-paced demands of global subscribers and businesses.

NetNumber is offering the industry’s first cloud-native platform designed to ensure InterGENerational™ network performance addresses both the legacy and next-generation requirements of telecom networks. 

“NetNumber has developed the industry’s most robust cloud-native, InterGENerational platform that addresses both the legacy and 5G requirements of telcos,” said Matt Rosenberg, Chief Revenue Officer of NetNumber.

The platform provides vertical and horizontal scale-out with low latency, coupled with a suite of data replication capabilities, which provide flexible architectural options that can evolve with the changing network over time.

“Cloud-based solutions from other vendors tend to be limited in terms of supporting particular network generations or protocols. We’ve created our latest platform TITAN.IUM to allow customers to take any generation of applications, any generation of legacy services and protocols and move them into the new world of cloud-native architecture,” said Rosenberg.

“This is a really important part for a carrier to harmonise their network, bring data services together, bring legacy with new together in order to make a more effective and efficient network, as well as reduce their cost as they scale forward,” he said.

Established in 1999, NetNumber has fostered a strong team environment that leverages the industry’s best skills to offer software solutions tailored for carriers of all dimensions. Based outside of Boston and with presence in over 20 countries, the company delivers a range of products that address all generations (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G) of network functions in the core network, deep rooted security products and services, STIR/ SHAKEN and set of options around data services in more than 90 countries.

Steeped in experience in building telecom solutions, software, protocol stacks, and integration of third party tools, the company’s development organisation has proven to supply to the industry with the most reliable and flexible solutions on the market.

“At NetNumber, we focus on our core competencies – we are dedicated to providing industry expertise in signaling, routing, security, subscriber management and data services. We provide customers a strong ROI through platform-based solutions that reduce Capex and Opex in the long-term,” commented Rosenberg.

Five reasons why customers choose NetNumber:

  • Expertise -  NetNumber has experts with deep knowledge in signaling/routing, security, and subscriber database management.
  • Integration - An industry-first platform brings together domain services, applications, security, and global data services.
  • Scale - NetNumber has the ability to seamlessly increase network efficiency using vertical and horizontal scaling.
  • Speed - World-class solutions have the power to help companies create new service offerings and accelerate time to ROI.
  • Savings - Customers enjoy significant savings in capex and opex, flexible deployment models, and investment protection.


NetNumber and Virgin Mobile MEA

“We're very proud of our partnership with Virgin Mobile MEA as they've taken the concept of the InterGENerational platform into their regional network strategy,” commented Rosenberg. “That’s accelerated how they develop exceptional services across the Middle East and Africa region. 

“We work with them hand-in-hand to deliver multiple applications onto our platform which has enabled them to provide exceptional, advanced and innovative services to their customers across the Middle East, who demand high quality services. 

“What they've really taken advantage of is scale. What I mean by that is they are putting multiple generations of applications and services onto the same platform and distributing that data across their network. That has resulted in an advantageous position of time to market and operational savings. 

“Rather than having different applications for many different vendors that cause operational chaos, they've been able to consolidate that and reduce their operating costs by having everything on one common architecture.  We’ve had a long-term relationship with Virgin Mobile in Saudi Arabia, and recently signed an agreement with Virgin Mobile in Kuwait.”

Rosenberg says that with these solutions, Virgin Mobile MEA can take advantage of getting to the market much quicker and faster—which is what today’s discerning customer demands.

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