Africa continues to attract the interest of businesses abroad and of those here in South Africa, but the continent also presents some unique challenges. With on the ground support in 40 countries across the continent and as Vodafone Global Enterprise’s delivery partner for the region, Vodacom Business is uniquely equipped to help ensure that African expansion projects create profits rather than headaches.
“Africa has vast and largely untapped growth potential,” says Vuyani Jarana, Chief Officer for Vodacom Business. “Many global enterprises based in the US, Europe and Asia are focusing on expanding their operations into Africa to establish a presence. As a result, Vodacom Business is seeing a huge demand for connectivity services. These enterprises generally prefer to deal with a single supplier, and Vodacom Business is perfectly positioned to meet this need.”
Jarana explains that, thanks to relationships with third-party network operators and its own extensive infrastructure, Vodacom Business can provide support across 40 different African markets. “We have teams in various geographies, including a West African team that coordinates our activities in Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, and another in East Africa that looks after Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique.”
Vodacom Business also has a strong presence in Nigeria, Mozambique and even Lesotho. Combined with its sizeable South African footprint – with many companies seeing South Africa as a stepping stone to the rest of the continent – this means Vodacom Business can “deliver the right services, at the right time and in the right place,” Jarana says.
Vodafone Global Enterprise customers, which include companies with truly global reach as well as those with multi-country environments, expect and demand consistent services to be delivered by a resilient network, Jarana explains. Vodacom Business is able to provide this by empowering these companies to operate as though they’re a single enterprise in one location. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) functions, human resources, financial services and other systems can all be managed from a single office.
Jarana says that African operations are a ‘key strategic investment’ for Vodacom Business, and that this attention and investment has made it possible to offer exceptional service level agreements to customers.
“Customers want information anytime, anywhere and on any device. We’re able to facilitate that,” Jarana says, adding that all services on Vodacom Business Africa’s network are monitored for stability and against security attacks from South Africa. “We can tell when a link in Gabon starts failing, for example, and can dispatch a local team on the ground immediately.”
Jarana says this high level of service integration and convenience makes for a strong value proposition in the market and can help enterprises be far more successful across the continent.
Vodacom Group’s last set of financial results further attest to the success of Vodacom Business and its ability to meet its customers’ demands. In the last financial year, Vodacom Business generated R10 billion in revenue and accounted for 17% of Group service revenue.
Vodacom Business is also a major growth engine for the Group, which has had to contend with falling mobile voice revenues in markets like South Africa. But it’s not just mobile services that Vodacom Business is positioned to offer in Africa, Jarana says the company also has a “strong presence for fixed voice and data services in markets like Nigeria, Kenya and Zambia” where it services both consumers and enterprise thanks to having bandwidth on undersea cables and terrestrial connections.
“Customers want consistent service across the continent. As more enterprise customers adopt cloud-based services – like centrally hosted applications and financial management systems – they want to be able to deliver these across a secure and resilient network,” Jarana explains.
“This means customers get benefits of scale and are able to remove the pain points of local IT infrastructure,” he adds. Jarana says Vodacom Business also “understands local regulatory frameworks”, which are often stumbling blocks for businesses expanding into new regions.
But it’s not just multinationals that rely on Vodacom Business for services in Africa, other carriers also rely on it. “With Vodacom Carrier Services other operators use our infrastructure to carry services from country to country,” Jarana explains.
African expansion is unlikely to slow down in the near future, and Vodacom Business is ideally positioned to assist companies every step of the way as they capitalise on this trend.