With its young population, dynamic growth and improving infrastructure, sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to become a manufacturing powerhouse, but first it must boost efficiency and productivity, says MATTHEW KIBBY, VP: Sage Enterprise, Africa & Middle East.
African countries from South Africa to Ethiopia to Nigeria are pinning some of their hope for economic growth and job creation on industrialisation. With its young population, dynamic growth and rapidly improving infrastructure, sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to become a manufacturing powerhouse in the years to come.
But first, African manufacturers must boost efficiency, productivity and quality if they are to compete with low-cost producers in Asia as well as with the high-tech, tightly integrated supply chains in North America and Europe. A new industrial revolution is rapidly transforming how and where goods are made, and the African industry needs to keep up.
For example, advanced robotics and a range of innovative materials are making it cheaper and faster to produce even complex technical goods in factories across the world. Leading manufacturers are using tools such as the Internet of Things, big data, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve productivity, reduce energy and resource consumption – and African companies stand a chance of getting left behind.
To stand out in a globalised market, African manufacturers need to be able to compete with low cost overseas competitors. Taking control of data for better customer insight is key – it will enable manufacturers to anticipate customer demands and become more agile.
Delivering the right product, at the right time and at the right price requires manufacturers to take total control of their product development process, from initial design to final production. By using specialist technology will help shorten the time-to-market for products, improve product quality, and increase customer satisfaction.
Better business management – better business
Before jumping into advanced robotics or AI, sub-Saharan Africa’s manufacturers should be looking at their business management systems to ensure they are fit for purpose. Many of them are using legacy systems or even heavily manual processes, rather than integrated, enterprise applications. A robust business management solution can be a real game changer, helping manufacturers meet the evolving challenges of today’s business world.
According to a recent Forrester report, manufacturers can realise up to 218% return on investment (ROI) within four months by implementing effective business management solutions. The report also found that, as well as receiving significant ROI within a short amount of time, manufacturing organisations reported strong improvements in: financial management; purchasing; sale management; inventory management; and customer service.
Business management solutions enable manufacturers to meet the challenges of today’s business world, helping them to accelerate collaboration and reporting, providing real-time insight into costs and operational performance, and providing information for smarter and faster business decisions. This, in turn, allows them to enhance efficiency, diminish costs, and increase sales and profitability.
Next generation business management systems enable a company to optimise the end-to-end manufacturing process – including production planning, project management, process scheduling, compliance, and mobile supply chain management, while reducing overall total manufacturing costs.
Removing the heavy-lifting and mundane tasks that slow down productivity, stifle flexibility and inhibit growth can transform an organisation into a world-class player. Improved visibility between the front- and the back-office will lead to better insight and improved decision making across key company operations.
An investment worth making
Next-generation business management solutions take the complexity out of running a manufacturing business, simplifying operations to allow enterprises to grow faster and stay agile. With minimal IT investment and resources, companies can enjoy rich, integrated functionality to support all core business processes. And they’re easy to adapt to fit unique processes, roles and preferences.
Automated solutions and consistent processes lead to time and cost savings, easier collaboration and faster outcomes. Integrated reporting allows regular and real-time operational insights, enabling better, quicker business decisions. The right solution will allow African manufacturing companies to consistently deliver and take advantage of new commercial opportunities.
The efficient, streamlined processes that stem from the right business management solutions enable improved productivity and profitability – and accelerated growth.
Africa gets broadband boost
ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.
Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.
Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.
ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.
At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”
Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”
ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.
Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.
AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.
The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.
‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”
The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.
‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.
The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”