Kenya is one of the more obvious examples of an African country that has managed to effectively combine infrastructure and applications to create an ecosystem to drive home the benefits of broadband development and rollout. Its healthcare sector and integration of mobile technology is viewed by those within the mobile technology space as evidence of significant progress made.
The term ‘ecosystem’ was referred to on several occasions at The Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC) 2013, hosted recently in Cape Town, South Africa, by Telkom SA.
The need to focus on achieving a balanced ecosystem – one that has equilibrium between infrastructure and applications, which then facilitates further development – was a central message to emerge from the Conference.
Luis Martinez Amago, President of EMEA at mobile phone manufacturer Alcatel-Lucent, said broadband has become a utility like electricity or water within emerging markets. He said there is a need to develop both infrastructure and applications in equal measure in order to support the practical use- and further rollout of broadband.
He highlighted the development within app creation and application to address needs in key sectors including health. “For example, there are a number of cost-effective, private institutions that helps pregnant women to go through the pregnancy and deliver safely. What they do is that these women have a mobile phone through which they can make micro-payments to save a quota, which is very cheap, and they can do it every day, a little bit. With this they can follow how much they are saving and how much they are paying, and they can have a quality delivery process.”
Although there was a clear understanding that broadband adds value, Amago acknowledged that this resource had to be developed locally for local requirements.
The ecosystem involves networking between stakeholders and jointly setting up a framework that would facilitate the rollout of a complete solution.
To achieve this level of collaboration is not difficult says Amago. “Even in very competitive economies … like France or Spain, it happens there, there is no reason why it cannot happen here.”
Amago refers to the deployment of fibre network as an example. “What they are doing in Spain, for example, telecommunications companies are collaborating to ensure deployment to the country.”
The matter is more about self-regulation and collaboration says Alcatel-Lucent. The Company refers to the emergence of Towers across the continent and laying down fibre as first real steps towards achieving the required numbers and volume, meeting requirements and creating the ecosystem that is being discussed.
Chris Tredger – Online Editor