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[Column] Parag Mendiratta: Unlocking growth opportunities in East Africa's IT channel landscape

[Column] Parag Mendiratta: Unlocking growth opportunities in East Africa's IT channel landscape

The East African region is poised for significant growth in the IT sector, presenting a massive base of opportunities for channel partners. Despite global disruptions, the IT market is bouncing back, with predictions indicating an eight percent increase in worldwide PC shipments and IT spending in 2024. This resurgence is fuelled by the accelerated digital transformation brought about by the pandemic, pushing companies to artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing. 

With the economic benefits seen thus far, it is unsurprising that digital transformation is one of Kenya’s priorities. According to the Kenya Digital Economic Blueprint, the Digital Economy is growing faster than overall economies. Evidence shows that information and communications technologies (ICTs) account for 17% of GDP growth in developing countries (World Bank 2016). The fastest growth of e-commerce is in the global South (UNCTAD 2015) and the Internet economy in developing economies is growing at 15-25% annually (WEF 2015).

Kenya is fortunate enough to reap the benefits of the digital economy as one of the world leaders in driving financial inclusion through the use of digital finance solutions such as M-PESA, Mula, PesaLink, and Pesapal. The adoption of such innovations is facilitating transactions and spurring trade for corporations, SME’s, and individuals. This in turn translates to improved and efficient business environments, increased accessibility, connectedness, and better standards of living.

Everything changes 

Much of the growth in IT spending can be put down to the impact of COVID-19. Lockdown measures and remote working forced companies everywhere to transform the way they operate, accelerating their digitization strategies dramatically.

Data is key to this, and organizations are increasingly turning to cloud and edge deployment to provide the computing, storage, and speed required to manage the huge wealth of data available to them. Across the IT ecosystem, vendors and distributors are innovating on effective data management products and services that will allow their customers to maximize the value of that data. 

At the same time, a combination of customer expectations, and the need for regulatory compliance, means IT channel companies and professionals are recognising responsibility for their own – and their customers’ – impact on climate change, a recognition that is influencing their decisions and actions in several ways. 

Sustainability concerns

As customers become more aware of environmental issues such as climate change, they are demanding that companies take responsibility for their impact on the environment. This has led companies to consider the sustainability of their decision-making, product design, and manufacturing processes. 

Additionally, IT companies are adopting "green IT" practices to minimize their environmental impact. This includes practices such as virtualization, cloud computing, and efficient power management. Many organizations are also implementing sustainability initiatives such as the use of renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, and reducing waste to reduce their carbon footprint. 

In order to shift to renewable energy, existing technologies can aid in the transition. Digitalization will also drive changes in business models, customer experiences, and skill requirements in the IT sector and the channel. 

Digital transformation 

Arguably the ‘poster child’ of digitalization, generative AI burst onto the scene in 2023, and its popularity shows no sign of declining. Indeed, the generative AI market is predicted to grow by the end of the decade. Building upon existing technologies such as applied AI and industrialized machine learning, it has high potential and applicability across most industries, and is set to add to the global economy. 

Importantly, both digital and human channels will play a vital role in this transformation, it is, therefore, essential that these channels are connected. To unlock the value of technologies like generative AI, organizations must build their channels on systems that allow data to flow in real-time. 

Channel partners must stay up to date with the latest changes to ensure that they can leverage new opportunities – for themselves and their customers – and maintain a competitive edge. Setting themselves up for long-term success, enabling their customers to unlock greater business and technical value from their IT modernization strategies. 

Changing consumer trends. Just as businesses are changing the way they operate so, too, are consumers.

To conclude, the East African IT sector presents opportunities for innovation and transformation, driven by sustainability, digitalization, and emerging market trends. Channel partners can capitalize on these opportunities by staying up-to-date with market trends and fostering strategic partnerships

Parag Mendiratta is the Regional Manager, Eastern Africa at Eaton Electrical Sector. 





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