I just returned from Cisco Networkers 2010 in Bahrain, and wanted to put a few thoughts to paper (or the electronic equivalent). First of all, thank you Cisco. What a fantastic event for all involved!
The event was held at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), and boasted attendance of over 3,000 delegates from Bahrain and more than 60 other countries. Not only was the event an opportunity for technical training for the attendees but it was also an opportunity for local Cisco partners to present their products and solutions. Both are consistent with Cisco’s emerging markets strategy of country transformation – to create an environment conducive to expanding opportunity in emerging markets rather than merely exploiting existing opportunity. Cisco works with governments and other non-governmental organizations in certain emerging markets to help develop the ICT infrastructure and local technical skills in order to build the market, and further enable economic development of the country. Holding Networkers 2010 in Bahrain demonstrated Cisco’s commitment to their country transformation strategy.
My colleague, Mike Cansfield, just posted a blog on the new “scramble for Africa” among telecommunications companies. Bharti Airtel, an Indian company, just finalized a deal to take over most of the African assets of Zain, a Kuwaiti company. As Mike mentions, Bharti has been dogged in its efforts to enter the African market with two previous attempts to forge a deal with South Africa’s MTN Group.
Bharti sees significant opportunity on the continent where just 36% of the population owns a mobile phone – yet many more use mobile phone services through resellers who offer use of a phone by the minute in the local markets. Originally part of the informal sector, MTN has actually launched a program to legitimize the sale of on-demand phone services through its Y’ello Zone Payphone initiative. MTN originally pledged to install 7,500 community pay phones across the countries in underserved areas. To date, over 11,000 have been installed. As part of the program, MTN offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to operate these Payphone kiosks, and provides the skills training to run a successful phone shop. The program contributes to job creation, especially among women and youth, with more than 3,800 retailers already benefitting. But, I digress . . .