Africa calling

The North Africa IT market continues to attract the interest of global IT vendors and regional distributors.

Tags: FVC - First Video Communications IncorporationSpectrami (www.spectrami.com)Western Digital Corporation
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Africa calling Khwaja Saifuddin, Senior Sales Director at WD Middle East, Africa & South Asia (Dmitry Dolzhanskiy/IT{ Images)
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By  Manda Banda Published  June 24, 2013

The North Africa IT market continues to attract the interest of global IT vendors and regional distributors. However, the continued volatility that stemmed from the Arab Spring of 2011 has cast doubt on the long-term growth of IT in the region.

With the political changes that happened in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt two years ago, many IT companies in the Middle East have been looking for a fresh start. But has political change in the three countries in North Africa brought meaningful economic change and growth to benefit those that resell IT kit and services?

Prior to the revolution in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt that ushered in a new era on the political front, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region was one of the promising blocks posting, an average 4.2% economic growth in 2010, according to the IMF Regional Economic Outlook report.

Not only was the North Africa IT market maturing nicely and catching up with the rest of the Middle East markets, but it was also a hungry consumer of new technology, constantly raising the barrier in terms of demand for the latest products.

Ahmed Youssef, general manager, English speaking North Africa at FVC, said: “We see a lot of potential in Africa in general with the main regions that are showing stable growth being North and Central Africa. On the market vertical side, banking, government and telecoms are the biggest industry segments that are driving technology adoption and driving business growth.”

Youssef said it is one of the reasons why FVC has expanded its local resources by opening new offices in Kenya and Nigeria. “Through these subsidiaries, we hope to help support our resellers in East and West Africa respectively. The offices employ local people who understand our technology offerings and the local market dynamics.”

Youssef said for FVC, the key technology areas driving the company’s business in North Africa are unified communications (UC), advanced networking and information security.

Anand Choudha, managing director at Spectrami, a regional VAD, said the North Africa market is still experiencing growth despite the crisis on the political side. Choudha noted that the political problems in Tunisia and Libya had a big impact on governments’ IT expenditure, but countries like Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania have reported significant IT growth. “Spectrami has recently opened an office in Casablanca, Morocco, to cover the North Africa market. As French is the key language in the majority of North African countries, the company has made this conscious decision to better serve North African countries by being part of the region and adopting itself to the local market requirements,” he said.

Khwaja Saifuddin, senior sales director at WD Middle East, Africa & South Asia, said the appetite for IT products in North African countries has been growing steadily in recent times. Saifuddin said the prospects for serious long-term growth are enticing and vendors with the right products and support systems will be able to take advantage of this opportunity.

Saifuddin said as North Africa’s appetite and reliance on IT products increases, there’s a growing need for value-added IT services such as 24 - 7 technical support and data recovery services, and helped to further propel the market for growth.

He said WD relies on its on-ground staff and a network of partners to grow its footprint in North Africa. “We have established a healthy breadth of partners and are focusing on investing in educating them on our range of offerings and concepts pertaining to our products. These deep training sessions help our channel partners to understand customer needs so that they are able to better address the market,” he said.

This booming landscape is great news for the channel in North Africa as vendors and distributors invest heavily in channel programmes, partnerships and infrastructures that will maximise their exposure to North Africa’s IT purchasers. But it also raises some important challenges, not least the prospect of a significant skills shortage as IT suppliers try to keep pace with demand for new technology, exacting logistical requirements, and local credit models that tend to squeeze profitability.
At another regional VAD FVC, the main focuses are enterprise and large- and medium-size business.

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