Mobile Week with GSM

June 14, 2009

Nigeria, crucial market to Harris Stratex — Braun

By Prince Osuagwu & Emmanuel Elebeke
Harris Stratex Networks, global providers of end-to-end solutions for mobility and fixed network applications, last week, said that in a bid to  serve its Nigerian customers better, it had  embarked on  expansion of its Nigerian operations through the opening of a new service centre.
The company’s Nigerian subsidiary generates the second highest revenue across Harris Stratex Networks global operations. Visiting Nigeria for the fourth time in 11 months, Mr. Harald Braun, President Harris Stratex Networks USA described the commissioning of the new Nigerian office as an important step in bridging the gap between the company and its Nigerian clientele base. Accompanied by Mr Paul Kennard, Chief Technology Officer and Bekele Tadesse, Nigerian Country Manager, the company’s President addresses a press conference as the recently concluded West African International Telecommunications and Information Communication Technology Exhibition (W.Afri.Tel), organised by Exhibition Management Services in conjunction with IT & Telecom Digest magazine.

Speaking on the opening of the service centre, Mr. Braun said: “this is an important step for us because this service centre brings us much closer to the customer and it actually does provide us capabilities to serve our customers much better and we also have space in there to build a network operations centre so that we can actually operate customer networks in Nigeria or in countries which Nigeria shares a borderline with.”

Describing the African market as crucial to the company’s global operations, he stated that Harris Stratex Networks generates 30 per cent of its revenue from Africa. “Africa for us is a growth market and a growth segment. Thirty per cent of the business comes from the continent, and we see upside potential here. Upside potential lies in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, but it lies also in some countries which we are not covering today” he remarked. Commenting on the company’s expansion plans in the continent, he stated that the company recently opened its North Africa with plans to open a Central African subsidiary. Our number one region is West Africa and it is Nigeria, and here we see a lot of growth. The market conditions for mobile broadband subscribers in emerging markets in Africa are tremendous” he stated. Quoting from research materials, he projected that mobile broadband subscribers currently estimated at over 34 million is geared to rise to one billion in 2013.

Braun listed three key areas of challenges for the company’s operations as energy, security and surveillance. While canvassing for the need to improve on electricity generation, he stated that the company had made investment in the provision of alternative sources of energy wind energy and solar energy to its customer’s cell sites; leading to reduction of expenditure by the operators.

According to him, the company has developed solutions that dramatically enhance the energy efficiency and physical security of remote telecom sites, lowering the overall cost of maintaining site operations. These solutions include an innovative combination of hybrid power sources, grid and off-grid, intelligent power and cooling management, local and remote access control and other state-of-the-art features, all contained in a single drop-in enclosure that can be deployed for new sites or as an overlay for an existing network.

Speaking on the company’s IP mobile backhaul business, he said that the company was embarking on proactive measures to ensure the accessibility of wimax by its customers and end_users as well. “All future laptops will have wimax access, and the company is already thinking in that direction. Chipset providers in the future will come out with wimax components already built in the laptops. So it becomes very important for us to provide the infrastructure going forward to connect to the broadband access and over that to the core business, so that people can have to access to their web pages, and so on. wimax is a very important part of our structure” Mr. Braun noted.

Speaking further on the company’s product offerings, the President said: “One of the best products that we have going is that we provide telecommunication management software, to actually manage and optimise telecommunications network. This is very important because it positions us at the strategic vendor table with our customers. I want to be a strategic vendor to our customers, and that can only be possible if you have a product portfolio and with the products also come complete service portfolio.”

Underscoring the company’s commitment to developing Nigeria’s economy through skills transfer, Mr. Kennard announced that the company plans to partner several Nigerian tertiary institutions. “Harris Stratex is interested in fostering relationships with local universities. We expect that we will have a deepening relationship with them and make our equipment available; work with the students, help them with their technology plans and in fact, help them if possible to have some kind of relationship with them. We’re looking at developing local skills here rather than bringing from abroad” he announced.
He revealed that the company’s intention was to use close to 100 per cent Nigerian support and employees. “Some others bring in employees from overseas, that’s not our intention. Our intention is to win more business so that we can then bring in other Nigerian partners who will also benefit from that. Our intention is to build more business here” he stated.

Reiterating the company’s plans in empowering students of tertiary institutions with skill set in certain areas of the telecom sector, Mr. Braun added: “we have some experience, and when we bring our experience and train people in the training centre, and get good talented people from the university and train them, over time they get the skill set. It’s very important.”

Mr. Bekele praised the effort of Mr. Braun who according to him was doing everything possible to make sure that the Harris Stratex office in Nigeria is the most important Harris Stratex office worldwide. “The very fact that our President has come here four times in 11 months, shows the commitment he has to this market. No multinational corporations is showing that level of commitment to Nigeria. This I would say is the first person to do it. All the operators are our customers. If we fail here, it will not be due to our executive management, but it will be due to our own weak performance. Therefore we are getting full support, to make sure that Harris Stratex Nigeria continues to be number one market for Harris Stratex in the world” he said.

Mr. Bekele added further: “The purpose of Harris Stratex is not just to sell equipment and run away. It has a purpose which is really deeply engrained in the objectives of the company. To involve companies, universities, to train also the operator’s manpower so that they can develop the capability to man the network themselves. We also have the intention of working together with other local companies who are in the telecommunications field, in service provision,

who are in microwave, who are managing cell sites. We would like to outsource by taking full responsibility with these companies to work as partners with them. In this process, the company is also investing in training those partners not only locally but internationally where these facilities are available.

Harris Stratex is a global provider of end_to_end solutions for mobility and fixed network applications, supported by comprehensive network management software, energy_efficient site infrastructure and world_class professional services. The company offers a broad range of innovative, field_tested wireless solutions and services that enable service providers around the globe to transform and expand their networks to support today’s dramatic growth in mobile broadband, and to wirelessly extend triple_play data services to new subscribers in developing economies and in underserved rural areas.

Harris Stratex Networks leads the industry in commitment to customer service, engineering excellence and comprehensive field services, all delivered and managed by its technical teams. The company’s services covers the complete cycle of network implementation, including analysis, planning, design, systems integration, site build, deployment, network monitoring, training and customer service.

Addressing all markets, Harris Stratex Networks is the largest supplier of microwave systems in North America and a top_tier provider of wireless infrastructure solutions worldwide. The company has a strong and growing presence in all regions, including North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Pacific Rim and Latin America.