Taking stock of Yemen

As Yemen's IT market evolves, calls are growing for vendors to develop a reliable channel structure.

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By  Julian Pletts Published  September 21, 2008

In addition to the issue of maintaining a precarious credit policy in the country, Golden Systems suggests that to operate in Yemen channel players have to be aware that the primary focus of the end-user in the IT market is price.

"Yemen is pretty much price-driven at the moment given that it is a fairly new market," explained Hashemi. "Most of the customers are very focused on the price and looking for the cheapest price."

The inability of customers to devote a substantial chunk of their funds to IT investment is felt readily in the commercial IT sector in Yemen, according to Khaled Shamsan of Smartnet, a reseller that targets the government and banking sectors with enterprise vendors such as Cisco and Juniper.

Vendors need to devote more attention to channel education and provide product training that will help channels in Yemen to market in a way that is not focused on price factors, but on value.

"There needs to be a commitment and approach that is understood and followed by local companies to deliver professional services at high standards and to give complete respect to the IT business and to its professionals," said Shamsan. "Competition at low prices, with no quality, should not be the trend."

Despite the government working to diversify the national income away from a reliance on oil funds, resellers on the ground in Yemen and some of the larger distributors that serve the country feel more could still be done to drive the IT sector.

Shamsan would like to see the Yemeni government encouraging external investment before it looks at potential development in the country. "Our government should learn from what other countries did in this regard and follow it up," he added.

It would seem that vendors and larger distributors should avoid the Yemeni IT space like the plague. This however, is not the case. In fact, despite this deluge of negativity about the market, there are plenty of positives.

Although some channel experts in Yemen voice a desire for the government to do more to attract foreign investment, there are those who commend the upper echelons of the country's political powers for the work already done in furthering its fledgling IT market.

This includes the creation of an economic reform programme two years ago that has seen international donors pledge over US$5 billion for a wide range of projects that encompass IT infrastructure developments.

Mourad Mohamed, director of sales and marketing for the Middle East, Africa and CIS at Trinity, an IT solutions distributor that has opened channels in Yemen, says that the market has experienced "fast-paced" growth.

"The Yemenis attribute this growth to the government's support for bringing information technologies into the country," explained Mohamed. "The government is working to improve the IT market in the country. From the customer's side, the growth is extremely positive due to increased interest from Yemenis in technological advances."

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