Doing well and ‘doing good’ in Africa

By Jean-Paul Clemente, Managing Director – HPE Africa and DOM-COM

Africa might be a small market for us in terms of numbers – it represents about 2% of HPE’s total revenue – but it is a “sleeping giant” and some areas are waking up. We want to be there.

Our vision is to double our African revenue over the next two to three years and we want to become the preferred IT brand for our customers in every country on the continent. In addition, HPE plans to become a key player in Africa’s digital transformation journey, while also having a positive social impact.

This goes hand in hand with our mission to advance the way people live and work, so in other words, we want to do well by ‘doing good’.

In order to achieve a significant and sustainable social impact, we are also looking towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and want to drive these through our investments and engagements in Africa.

Investment opportunities

To make a play for the African market, HPE has identified opportunities across the entire continent and areas where we are planning to invest. Africa is finally seeing a degree of stability compared to the past 20 years in terms of political will that is being driven by new government in some countries.

This stability is seeing some countries grow economically, while others are rising from the ashes and are being rebuilt after years of devastating civil war and unrest. These countries are striving to do better and are trying to catch up with the digital transformation phenomenon that is happening across the globe.

Digital transformation is a key driver of modern healthcare systems, banking and many other aspects of a digital economy. Major telecom players are instrumental in driving digital transformation by deploying 4G and 5G connectivity and many other services all over the continent, and that is where we want to establish partnerships.

Not only do we want to collaborate with major telcos, we are also looking at partnerships with local players, public-private partnerships with governments, as well as to work with institutions such as the World Bank.

Partners and solutions

Aside from partnering with telcos to facilitate 5G rollout, we also want to play in the banking sector, specifically in countries like Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Botswana and Ivory Coast that are seeing a 6-8% GDP growth and want to grow their middle class and digital economies.

HPE Africa aims to provide solutions to SMBs in the digital space, by supporting small companies and tier 2 and 3 cloud service providers. Many service providers popping up to provide managed services to their customers.

So, the partners we’ve identified, which are part of our African go-to-market strategy, are distributors, value-added resellers, and tier 2 and 3 service providers.

Additionally, we have strategic relationships with some other major OEMs to provide products in the area of education. Without going into specifics, we are planning to provide solutions for agriculture, education and healthcare.

Challenges

While the continent offers many opportunities, it also presents several significant challenges. We need to have a local presence in every country, yet we don’t have enough presence on the ground. We are working to solve this.

A lack of local skills is also an issue. Digital transformation cannot just happen, it requires deep skills to be able to transform societies and companies. Change management is needed at all levels, so are working to enable people in the channel and their customers to become change agents.

The provision of financial services can also be tricky, as we need a separate licence in each country, as Africa does not have a single trade bloc like Europe, while a lack of forex in many African countries can inhibit growth.

We are working on these challenges and recognise that the opportunities are immense. Ultimately, we want to do well and make a difference, and as per HPE’s mission, to ‘Advance the way people live and work’…in Africa.

 

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