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#WEFAfrica17: BT Group banks on Africa's future

Technology
Durban - Kevin Taylor, the president for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa at BT Group, on Thursday, on the sidelines of WEF Africa 2017 spoke about Africa’s bright future and what would enable Africa to leapfrog into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Two important factors that he highlighted included time and people.

Taylor said one needed to invest the right amount of time to consider the right policies, driven by the right people.

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The logo for the British Telecom group is seen outside of offices in the City of London, Britain

He said this approach had enabled the sustained growth of the South East Asian economies, with policies that also eradicated barriers, which had made it difficult for entrepreneurs to thrive.

Following this approach, Taylor believes that the growth of digital businesses would be possible as well as the creation of digital customers that drive deeper and richer interactions for businesses inside and outside Africa.

He said that BT had invested the right amount of time in Africa to allow the provision of sustained digital innovation in the long term.

Time

Taylor emphasised the fact that enough time should be spent investing the right amount of time to consider the right policies driven by the right people. He highlighted that this has enabled the sustained growth of the South East Asian economies. These policies include the eradication of barriers that make it difficult for entrepreneurs to thrive.

By doing this he believes that the (1) growth of genuine digital businesses which increase business agility and innovation through will be possible and also the (2) creation of digital customers that drive deeper and richer interactions for businesses inside and outside the region.

BT has invested the right amount of time in Africa to allow the provision of sustained digital innovation for the long term. BT’s global experience and market leader position, contributes to the growth of the markets where they operate in, as it does in Africa.

This is seen in what BT has done on the ground particularly in the research and development (R&D) space. Here are just a few examples:

·         BT has invested more than £470 million in R&D last year.

·         Currently BT holds more than 4,700 patents

·         It has more than 1300 scientists in 8 development centres

People

According to Taylor, people are another critical part in enabling Africa into the 4th Industrial Age. He therefore suggested that investing in people for the long term is integral to sustained economic growth and regional partnerships.

He suggested that considering policy reforms and enabling people in the region to obtain access to technology, markets, and resources it will accelerate the digitalisation of the work force so there will be world class Digital Employees to take on the needs of other regions digital transformation needs.

In this regard, BT has led by example through investing in its own 250 employees in the region and also by ensuring that they are part of the digital revolution. BT views digital transformation as empowering people, customers, businesses and employees.

Example: Parking in Amsterdam

Until recently, parking attendants had a tough time patrolling the streets of Amsterdam. They’d meet aggressive – sometimes violent – reactions from ticketed drivers. That put a serious strain on their health, resulting in high absenteeism.

Now, thanks to digital technology, traffic wardens in Amsterdam don’t have to stalk the sidewalks anymore. Instead, they ride vehicles with SCANaCAR systems from ScanAuto, which monitor parked cars, taking up to 800 digital images a second. The digital images are encrypted and sent to Egis for analysis.

All of that data handling uses BT’s infrastructure.

Jan Lukkien, IT manager at Egis Parking Services, explains; “Using the BT infrastructure, our software looks up the licence plate on Egis and government databases to check if the owner has the correct parking permit for the zone the vehicle is in.”

Originally managed through a city-owned entity, Amsterdam was keen to get greater efficiency by outsourcing the operation. The bid winner was French engineering group, Egis. An IT service provider reselection process run by Egis, resulted in the reappointment of BT.

BT was already engaged, but that didn’t make it an automatic choice. Against other suppliers, it was able to demonstrate that the BT Compute hosting platform in Amsterdam was easily up to the task.

“We needed a stable IT platform because we run a virtually 24/7 operation, scanning about 40 million licence plates a year”, Jan Lukkien adds.

Leonard Knijff, business development manager with BT in the Netherlands, says; “The tailored solution we’ve build for Egis is extremely reliable and will help Egis market its end-to-end parking solution to other cities in The Netherlands, and elsewhere around the globe.”

African cities can also benefit from such a technology as they are also experiencing the same challenges.

BUSINESS REPORT



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