A significant number of businesses got hit severely during the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic and many others couldn’t stand the heat, thus resolving to closing shop because reliable revenue streams they were got caught off- a development that led to many white-collar employees losing their jobs.
Notably among these businesses were the tech-inclined ones, as a good number of them depend on reliable networks to execute their operations and during this same period, tech businesses were heavily affected owing to disruption in network activities.
Techbuild sought to learn more about the impact of network connectivity on tech-related businesses as regards the pandemic.
We spoke to Nicolas Blixell, Vice President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa who took us through some very key points
How tech has changed the scope of entrepreneurship In Africa
According to Blixell, digital transformation is a critical factor in long-term sustainable economic development, and Africa is no exception.
More than ever before, communication technologies are providing innovative solutions to help address social, environmental and economic challenges by enhancing efficiency and enabling both intensified network usage and more well-informed decisions.
“We at Ericsson believe that ICT can level the global playing field and enable African countries to harness the full potential of their human capital.
We also agree that a well-planned policy and regulatory environment is key to encouraging partnerships, entrepreneurship, job creation and knowledge sharing.”, Blixell noted
How network connectivity enhanced the scope of tech businesses in Africa
Ericsson’s Mobility has it that more than 340 million people are connected to mobile broadband across Sub-Saharan Africa and, in just five years, this number will almost double.
By 2025, mobile data traffic in Africa will rise by more than 50% year-on-year – clearly the highest growth rate worldwide.
Blixell noted that one of the most important features of digital infrastructure is the ability to bridge distances and make it easier to efficiently meet societal needs in terms of resource utilization, collaboration, competence transfer, status verification, privacy protection, security and safety
“The communications industry supports other industries by enabling them to deliver digital products and services such as health care, education, finance, commerce, governance and agriculture.
It also plays a vital role in tackling climate change by helping other industries reduce emissions and improve efficiency.”
The effect of the pandemic on tech businesses
Blixell reiterated that the unprecedented events of 2020 have brought into focus the critical role that digital infrastructure plays in the functioning of virtually every aspect of contemporary society.
“The network platform forms the core of the digital infrastructure, with an ability to ensure long-term competitiveness for enterprises as well as meet the full range of societal needs.”
Based on Ericsson’s latest consumer lab global study focused around ICT and connectivity against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, the daily lives of consumers got rocked by COVID-19 with 74 percent confirming that they have been highly impacted, and the same number have increased their internet usage significantly.
“Connectivity guarantees resilience, privacy, reliability and safety for all types of organizations – public, private and everything in between. It also has the scale, cost performance and quality required to support future innovations.
As a result of these characteristics, it is the most sustainable solution to address all future communication needs.”
On how Ericsson ensured network connectivity during the pandemic
Blixell explained that Ericsson’s mission has always been to help its customers connect the unconnected.
This can be challenging under normal circumstances but especially critical in a time of crisis like when the COVID-19 pandemic took center stage.
According to him, Ericsson’s engineers and field staff are part of critical teams deployed during a crisis.
“Even when a country goes into lockdown, our engineers are still active in order to keep the networks up and running.
Our teams have been working around the clock to ensure that the network of our numerous customers can withstand shifts in bandwidth needs as people continue to work and use video conferencing from home and kids are attending classes online instead of in the classroom.
We are still staying close to our customers in order to understand their needs, and also doing everything possible to support them so that their network capacity and performance can get maximized.”
What tech businesses can do post COVID-19 to ensure smooth connectivity
The Ericsson Mobility Report shows us that, by 2025, 77% of subscriptions in the Middle East and North Africa are expected to be for mobile broadband, while in Sub-Saharan Africa mobile broadband subscriptions will increase to reach around 72% of mobile subscriptions.
Broadband connectivity not only offers great potential to transform cities and industries but also enables connectivity as a basic human right; fostering inclusion and making a positive, sustainable economic impact.
“Businesses are certain to play a critical role in economic recovery, as the sector employs two-thirds of the continent’s workforce and generate more than half of the total turnover.
With this in mind, there is an urgent need to increase awareness among enterprises and public authorities
about the societal and economic benefits of broadband connectivity, the digital platform and specifically 5G.
5G was made for innovation and it has an exponential potential in boosting business productivity, as well as bringing a new range of possibilities for enterprises to emerge stronger post-crisis.”
Blixell explained that in extraordinary times like these, the value of fixed and mobile networks is the backbone of our society, even more, apparent than ever before, thus creating a comprehensive economic recovery plan that involves much more than simply figuring out how to get back to the pre-pandemic status quo.
“It’s crucial that the investments governments make to repair the short-term damage also contribute to sustainable economic development in the long term.”
How tech businesses can get around cyber attacks
During the pandemic, there was a spike in cyber-attacks, and it appears necessary for them to know how to get around this challenge going forward.
“To mitigate the consequence of cyberattacks, we need to take an end-to-end approach with a focus on IAM (Identity and Access Management) and extensive use of automation to manage security.
A proactive, multi-layered approach is the best way to reduce the impact of cyberattacks on an organization.”
Blixell explained further using an illustration of how machine learning can automate pattern identification to spot anomalous behavior on the network with the aim of identifying attacks before they can cause serious harm.
This kind of proactive approach is one of the most powerful weapons we hold to thwart cybercriminals.
Ericsson’s offering to the tech ecosystem post-pandemic in terms of connectivity
According to Blixell, the digital infrastructure offers endless possibilities to individuals, enterprises and governments across the globe, with its unique ability to bridge vast distances and as well enable powerful new solutions to a wide range of social, environmental and economic challenges.
Health care, education, finance, commerce, governance and agriculture are just a few of the sectors that stand to benefit from the massive efficiency gains that digital infrastructure can provide. In conclusion, Blixell had this to say:
“What is key is our responsibility and continued commitment to walking each customer’s technology journey in the African region.
Whether the customer is at a 5G readiness or road mapping the 4G switch, Ericsson remains a key partner in keeping Africa connected and designed to carry vital messages, commands, reasoning, insights, intelligence and all the sensory information needed to support the continuous evolution of industry and society.
The network platform is designed to be the spinal cord of digital infrastructure, and it is also the ideal platform for all types of innovation, with the ability to support interactions that empower an intelligent, sustainable and connected world.”
Featured Image: Nicolas Blixell, Vice President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa
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