Cisco intends Africa-wide Edge Centre expansion

Cisco plans to establish Edge Incubation Centres across the rest of the Sub-Saharan Africa, with South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya identified as primary initial targets.

The company today unveiled the first Centre at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria, South Africa, the culmination of a six-month project.

The R10 million smart facility will provide SMMEs with business facilities including workspaces with high-speed broadband connectivity, video conferencing and collaboration platforms, as well as boardroom and training facilities.

In addition, SMMEs will be able to connect with global Cisco experts, who can help them develop business ideas and concepts in a digital world.

Cisco's General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa Clayton Naidoo said South Africa is serving as a test site to showcase the technology, but the intention is to establish these Edge centres in every major country in Sub-Saharan Africa - focused on regions where Cisco has offices.

Naidoo explained that there is an incubation hub under construction at the University of Nairobi.

A blend of various technologies make up these centres. These technologies include cloud-based infrastructure networking technology (Cisco Mariachi), Cisco Teams collaboration technology (a Webex board video end-point that can be used as an interactive white board for real-time communication, a video conferencing unit that can be used via various video endpoints, including the smartphone), as well as file sharing ( a media space) and Software-as-a-Service technology.

Naidoo added, "This technology resonates with a certain market, a small business market, a mid-market where entrepreneurs can basically position it and deploy it easily. As the technology becomes more complex, we want the SMMEs to also get the certification ... and eventually collaborate on various other technologies."

Software remains a key focus for the company and according to Naidoo Cisco is slowly but surely changing market perception that it is no longer a network company and moving towards being a software company.

"Over the last three years the majority of acquisitions have been in the software space, in the security software space and network software space," he said.