How Cloud, Innovation Accelerates EA Economic Growth
In his tech opinion, Hardeep Sound, Regional Sales Director for East Africa at SAP, highlights how Cloud and Tech innovation can accelerate economic growth in the East African (EAC) regional block.
Hardeep points out that; when the early days of the pandemic pushed industries across East Africa into survival mode, it sparked a wave of cloud adoption that has swept through the region.
“Focused at first on ensuring business continuity, investment into cloud technologies and digitalization has since helped organizations in the region build greater resilience and unlock new business models and revenue streams,” he said.
Hardeep points out that the most reluctant businesses and their customers have now come online.
“One of the reasons is that the benefits of greater digitalization became clear almost immediately”, he adds.
According to the tech analytic guru, businesses that took the opportunity at the outset to build new capabilities, establish new revenue streams or transform their business models rapidly gained an advantage over those that were slower to transform.
“Consider how the retail sector embraced technology to adapt to lockdown restrictions and reach customers, sell products and improve visibility over volatile supply chains”, he further points out.
He stresses that many of the businesses that digitized with speed now enjoy the benefit of more resilient business models that are better suited to the demands of the modern economy.
For businesses across East Africa, the cloud presents a unique opportunity to innovate, develop new products and services, and scale into new markets or geographies.
It’s against this background that; Cloud technologies offer access to services and capabilities that are prohibitively costly for most companies to build themselves. By adopting cloud solutions for key business processes, organizations can drive greater efficiency and optimize their business processes without the upfront capital outlay of on-premise solutions.
“Taking advantage of the wealth of cloud-based ‘as-a-service’ solutions can also augment internal capabilities and unlock access to supplier networks, tech skills, and other capabilities that were previously out of reach”, he explained.
For many businesses in East Africa, according to Hardeep, the cloud presents a unique opportunity to innovate, develop new products and services, and scale into new markets or geographies.
He stresses that he experienced the benefits of such services when the first lockdowns created the need to enable remote working capabilities.
By leveraging cloud technologies, businesses could maintain communication with teams and customers and ensure continuity.
“Today, cloud technologies play a central role in transforming how organizations measure, manage and motivate their hybrid workforce” he stressed.
Now, the region faces a golden opportunity to drive innovation and achieve new gains across its internal and customer-facing operations by leveraging the cloud.
A recent study revealed that some East African industries have taken the lead with cloud adoption, including the banking, marketing, agriculture, and education sectors.
Considering the importance of manufacturing and tourism to the regional economy, organizations operating in these industries should leap at the opportunity to digitize.
Business-to-business spending in Africa’s manufacturing sector is set to reach $1 trillion by 2050, and the sector is well-placed to grow and become more competitive through digitization.
By building Industry 4.0 capabilities underpinned by the cloud, manufacturers could unlock the benefits of AI and robotic process automation with predictive analytics to gain unprecedented control, predictability, and operational efficiency.
The tourism sector was one of the hardest hit by pandemic restrictions as international travel came to a total standstill at the peak of the pandemic. Considering the sector contributed 8.1 percent to the region’s GDP in 2019, the impact of the restrictions on local businesses could not be overstated.
By leveraging the cloud to build new ways of engaging with travelers and removing friction from the travel process, the tourism sector could tap into a global tourism sector hungry for new experiences.
Businesses will benefit from choosing priority areas for cloud deployment that can deliver the greatest benefit with the shortest time-to-value and use the learnings to drive adoption in other areas of the business.
Based on our work helping organizations in East Africa leverage the cloud for business success, the following key focus areas could offer the most valuable starting points for cloud adoption:
East Africa can benefit from greater investment into innovation and research and development to improve the region’s global competitiveness and lure foreign direct investment.
The pharmaceutical sector, for example, holds enormous potential for research and development initiatives that can drive economic growth and create new industries while also reducing our need to import product and service innovations.
Regional innovators could consider leveraging the experience and market insight of cloud service providers with experience supporting pharmaceutical innovation.
This can help avoid costly mistakes, close the gap in best practices, and ensure there is an optimal technology mix to support innovation. As an example, 18 of the world’s 20 largest vaccine manufacturers run their production facilities using SAP technology, so any new facility can tap into SAP’s domain knowledge to fast-track success.