‘Internet of Everything enhances efficiency and productivity’
With growing interconnectivity across all human activities, it has been projected that Internet connections in Nigeria and the world have the potential to create additional value to the global economy between 2013-2022. According to Head, Middle East and Africa Global Service Provider Sales, Cisco, Paolo Campoli, the African market is unique in terms of the speed at which it is developing, while 52 per cent of the devices that will be termed Internet of Everything (IoT), are actually in Africa. He spoke with ADEYEMI ADEPETUN. Excerpts<strong Recently, a partnership between Cisco and Ericsson was announced. Can you shed more light on it?
Ericsson is a large global company working very much in the service provider space, and Cisco, as you are aware, works across the service provider as well as the enterprise sector. Basically, what we are looking to do is provide a joint thought-leadership, end-to-end capability to our customers by giving them real end-to-end support service, including hardware and support services. We are working together on 5G evolutions
The multi-faceted relationship will offer customers the best of both companies: routing, data center, networking, cloud, mobility, management and control, and global services capabilities. Together we plan to deliver customer value by offering service provider customers an end-to-end product and services portfolio, and joint innovation that accelerates new business models. We will be creating the mobile enterprise experience of the future through highly secure technology architecture for seamless indoor/outdoor networks, and channeling the combined scale and innovation of both companies to accelerate the platforms and services needed to digitize countries and create the Internet of Things.
Thus far, are there some challenges you have encountered in the adoption of such technologies like 5G in Africa?
The African market is unique in terms of the speed at which it is developing; we have the fastest growing mobile market place in the world in Africa 52 per cent of the devices that we will term IoT are actually here in Africa today. Africa is leading the way and that fast pace of development has the potential to create some challenges because as we skip levels of evolution, there is a challenge to everybody to move forward thus creating security issues, lack of skills in the market place and everyone struggling to keep up with the space of change. At Cisco, we have got new things happening around connectivity, such as fibre, satellite, sub-marine cable but the market is driving this incredible pace of change and it is really a case of making sure that the skills are there to ensure that things are done properly. Skills and speed are great but skill and speed involves strategy or it could be a potential disaster.
There is also the matter of creating the skill set to take advantage of the IoT. In reality, the numbers of applications you can develop say in transportation, smart cities, waste management, and water management have just reached the limit of imagination. The problem is where to find the skills to develop, not according to standard models like programming a computer or device like a smartphone but also programming a platform that includes the network. Recently Cisco launched the connected roadway solution that helps with traffic congestion in Dubai.
Is Cisco looking at doing same in Nigeria?
The technology brings a certain amount of capability but it is what you do with the data that actually control things around it. Understanding the people, when the traffic flow is at its peak and changing the traffic light is a simple thing to do. Changing the traffic flow accordingly is important and you can change when the busses are going to run and if there is an accident, change their routes even though there are not very many routes from Victoria Island to the airport, but we believe that bringing a certain intelligence to how people move around, how you find parking spots, where is the availability of parking, giving people the information of how long it is going to take to get from point A to point B improves peoples’ lives. So it is not as straightforward as it may seem. The data about people’s traffic flow is really important. Maybe, some companies will want to change the start and end day of their working days to reduce traffic flows. There are lots of things that could fall into that.
Are there any new innovations specifically for West Africa, particularly Nigeria?
What we are trying to do is to take the overall thinking of where the IoE is going and tailor that into specific areas like education. We would tailor our overall education capability for the requirements and the different types of connectivity in the more remote populations that are in existence. We are looking to take best of IoT and tailor it for the African market. Another thing is that Cisco is looking to build this next generation engagement module with service providers, offering them the best of technology but then work with the local companies to tailor that to the market place. That is a big change from when we previously would have just a simple box shipped with standard software. We are looking at how we can tailor those solutions to fit with the local market place.
Things have been happening in the last few months, especially looking at enterprise and SMEs. It is all about having an agile platform that connects SMEs in Nigeria and that the businesses are growing rapidly is not structured in terms of category association. Having the ability to be fast in the mark with the lower cost base is paramount. What is your growth expectation for 2016 and any plans of making new investments in Nigeria? In terms of investment in Africa, the answer is yes. We are investing in terms of four major pillars.