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Altech’s Huawei partnership to benefit African infrastructure

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Altech and Huawei recently entered into a partnership to drive future growth initiatives in the enterprise market. The new entity will be branded as Altech Collab and will reside within Altech’s New Business Development division.

Tim Ellis, Altech Group Executive for Business Development (image: Charlie Fripp)
Tim Ellis, Altech Group Executive for Business Development (Image: Charlie Fripp)

The agreement covers a number of countries including South Africa, Angola, Botswana, DR Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

IT News Africa spoke to Tim Ellis, Altech Group Executive for Business Development at the annual Gartner Symposium about their partnership with Huawei, Altech’s view on converged services and the challenges that Africa faces in terms of bandwidth.

“We have been focussing on converged services for about five years or more. We decided to partner with Huawei to show what can be done, and they will help us drive the way forward. Going forward there is going to be a big thrust to connect all, and at lower prices. The decision to partner was very clear to both parties. Huawei is a leader in the ICT space and Altech has been monitoring their progress. So it was just logical for us to come together. The current business model that we will employ is different from what we have done in the past. We wanted a local partner, and one who had a good relationship with their customers.”

Asked what Altech’s view is on converged services, Ellis said that it is all about delivering a cost-effective solution.

The biggest driving force behind converged services, according to Ellis, is cloud computing. “It’s all about going into the cloud, virtualisation, social media and big data. Now you have entire solutions for this, and it will be the next stage.”

“We want to enrich lives through communications, companies need cost effective solutions, and we want to combine voice and data together. Now ICT becomes the engine of the business, so the concept has changed. All technology serves people – that is a basic reason.”

Faced with a number of challenges in the industry, Ellis commented that bandwidth in South Africa is still a concern, but that Huawei has a number of solutions to combat the problem.

“The availability of bandwidth is a real challenge. Huawei has products and services that uses half the bandwidth of other solutions. If you lower the bandwidth needs, it will become effective. Huwaei understands that bandwidth needs to be managed effectively, and that the lowering of power consumption is also an issue,” he said.

In terms of Huawei’s commitment to the African continent, Eman Liu, president of Huawei Enterprise Business Group, said that Huawei sees Africa as an opportunity to actually make a different and help its citizens.

“Huawei calls Africa an emerging market, and from our side, we can help companies around the continent and share their experience. Huawei is prepared to invest in the local infrastructure. And where other companies come in with a sales teams for a quick win, it’s a long term investment for us,” Lui said.

Speaking of Africa, Ellis said that it is still a challenge to effectively roll out bandwidth across the continent. “Infrastructure in the ground is challenging in Africa, as it very often gets sabotaged. Until people can see the benefit as an asset, it will always be a challenge.”

Even with the potential challenge that they can face, Ellis reaffirmed that Altech is willing to enter as many African territories as possible. “We will do that through direct engagements and partnerships throughout Africa. If the market is big enough, we’ll enter it, but at the moment we have a great platform in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

But he added that it is difficult to predict where there will be adequate bandwidth. “As tech grows it will become more readily available, but the government should have a bandwidth plan in action, and need to plan how they will roll out more bandwidth. Like in Korea, they had a plan, and the access could be provided.”

“Every new technology is based on bandwidth. If we had unlimited bandwidth, it would create a lot of ideas, but as I stated Africa has a big problem with bandwidth. From the technology side, it’s all ready as Huawei has hardware capable of 1 Gigabit per channel with 156 channels.”

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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