As the first company to deploy fibre networks in many African countries, Liquid Intelligent Technologies understands the challenges of being a first mover with new technologies.
Technology has changed enormously over the last decade – and so has Liquid Intelligent Technologies. We started life as a voice communications provider in the late nineties. Back then, I specialised in one of the latest emerging technologies; Voice-over-IP (VoIP), which uses broadband for the delivery of telephony and other services. Flash forward to today and there are an estimated 72.2 million VoIP subscribers worldwide, who make calls using popular apps such as WhatsApp and Skype.
As the internet grew in size and sophistication so too did our services – we moved from voice into IP networks and satellite communications. This eventually led the business towards fibre optic technology in 2006.
Fibre optic offers significantly faster broadband speeds and is more resilient than copper, which is precisely why we made the technology the core of our business. Our transition to building fibre networks wasn’t simple – particularly as we were deploying fibre networks in countries that had never seen them before.
As the late Steve Jobs said: “It’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people.” And so we began the process of training our staff in a technology they hadn’t used before. We brought in experts from overseas and developed the skills sets we needed in a very short space of time. We then helped build those skills with our contractors and suppliers – who were also joining us on our journey of deploying fibre for the first time.
We’ve repeated that process several times since.
First when we began constructing data centres in 2010 – becoming the first company to build a Tier III data centre in East Africa. Then more recently in 2017, when we joined the Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) programme and began onboarding cloud architects to help us deliver cloud services to our customers. More importantly, our customers have also come along with us on our digital transformation journey. Our fibre networks have provided the foundations for customers to grow their business across Africa – delivering high-speed internet to everywhere from bank branches and safari lodges to hospitals and universities.
Africa is now in a great position to build on its reputation as a region that leapfrogs technology and embraces innovation. We are witnessing a lot of start-ups in the region that are using cloud platforms to build, launch and grow their solutions and services.
Likewise, we are seeing some fantastic applications of emerging technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), emerging from the region’s start-up scene.
But technology on the whole remains misunderstood and underused across the region. The question, we keep asking ourselves is what more can we do to support the growth of these emerging technologies?
We discovered partnering with likeminded organisations has been an effective way of sharing our experience in technology with start-ups, entrepreneurs and students. But we also spotted the enormous role online learning is playing in developing digital skills across the region. That’s why earlier this year, we launched our online learning platform, 21CSkills, which is offering online courses in sought after tech skills, such as data science, IoT and cloud computing.
We’ve already seen fierce interest from students, developers and start-ups in the platform – with some 500 students already enrolled from across seven African countries. On the job training is hugely important, which is why we have also encouraged our own staff to sign-up to the 21CSkills platform.
By developing data science skills within our own organisation, we have been able to analyse our network data and predict when and where fibre cuts or disruption could occur – helping to reduce downtime for customers.
This is one of the many benefits that we are starting to see from our digital transformation journey – which is why we are so excited about the digital future for Liquid Intelligent Technologies and all our customers.