Information Technology in Africa, The Next Frontier – IBM’s Leading the Way

- from The Economist

Lots of companies today have their eyes on Africa, but it’s IBM that’s leading the way.

That’s nothing new: the company sold its first gear there to South Africa’s railways in 1911 and a mainframe computer to Ghana’s central statistics bureau in 1964. More recently, it has been paying special attention to the continent, working with mobile-phone company Bharti Airtel, and opening offices in Angola, Mauritius, Tanzania, and Senegal – in all, more than 20 of Africa’s 54 countries.

Big Blue may be ahead, but it is not alone. Why IBM and an ever-increasing number of other companies are so enthusiastic about their prospects in Africa.

-Posted by Regan Kelly

The Mainframe: Making Good in Africa, with IBM Business Partner CFAO

By Jean Noel Le Foll, General Manager, CFAO Technologies

Brazil, Russia, India, China, Turkey, South Africa and Mexico are the fastest growing markets for computer equipment, making up 14% of the global IT market. The regions increasing their IT purchases the most are the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa, according to Forrester Research. A growing list of companies in these emerging economies is relying on the IBM System z mainframe to build their infrastructures.

The Ministry of Senegal brought all of its import and export processes from across the country on-line with System z, and is now recovering 30% of Gross National Product, which amounts to two billion Senegalese francs in customs revenue every day. In the process, the Ministry increased the performance of its systems by 70%, reduced power consumption by 20% and cut operating costs by 30%.

The System Z Mainframe goes global

Customs officers in Senegal and their partners now have real-time access to information across all of the country’s border checkpoints. They can check to see if the correct duty has been paid on shipments of goods coming through the country’s main border checkpoints This is a vast improvement over the Ministry’s previous system, which was limited to two border checkpoints. The Ministry of Senegal is using technology to apply critical information to boost the country’s economic growth.

Logo of CFAO TechnologiesMy company, CFAO, also worked with the government in Cameroon to help them build their infrastructure on the mainframe. In Cameroon, the Cameroon Ministry of Finance is using a System z mainframe to help with smarter banking and modernize the payroll processes for government employees in the country. The new system is helping to increase the security of the Ministry’s payroll system and improve the efficiency of processes such as generating pay slips.

Mainframes provide enterprise clients in growth markets with an efficient platform for growth as they transform their businesses to become smarter in their industry. CFAO’s System z business in Africa has grown 15% over the last three years. And IBM’s System z revenue in growth markets was up 11% year to year in the second quarter of 2012, per IBM earnings.

Today, IBM announced a new mainframe that has been built with features that will appeal to clients in growth markets, such as the capability to run without a raised datacenter floor. IBM has been making changes over the last five generations of mainframes to enable clients to do this.

The new family of mainframes will also allow enterprises in growth markets to grow their business by 50 percent without increasing their energy usage, IT investment or system size.

CFAO expects the new mainframe will allow us to help more clients in Africa operate smarter to grow their economies and better serve citizens by more effectively making use of available data.

CFAO Technologies is an IBM Business Partner in West Africa.