The ICT sector in Ethiopia has been growing rapidly in recent years, with the government making significant investments in infrastructure and regulatory reforms to support the development of the industry.
Cognizant of significant market opportunities for technology companies in the Horn, the government has set ambitious goals for the sector with the aim of becoming a middle-income country by 2025, largely driven by the ICT industry. The government has also implemented a national ICT policy and strategy that aims to increase access to technology and develop the local industry.
In terms of infrastructure, Ethiopia has made progress in recent years, with the government investing in fiber optic networks, satellite technology and data centers. However, there are still challenges to be addressed, including low internet penetration rates and limited access to finance for local entrepreneurs.
Despite these challenges, there are many opportunities for technology companies in Ethiopia.
As the country keeps growing the population of tech-savvy youth and a burgeoning startup scene, which is attracting investment from both domestic and international investors, Capital reached out to Naod Missale, Owner and Managing Director of Symbol Technologies PLC, for insights in the tech scene. Excerpts;
Capital: When and how did Symbol Technologies enter the tech scene? What was the purpose behind the start-up?
Naod Missale: Symbol Technologies was established in 2006 as an independent company.
When we started out, we had a vision set to become the most trusted enterprise cybersecurity solutions provider as well as one of the leading best-in-class ICT solution providers in Africa. Over the span of the last16 years, we have grown to become one of the trusted local leading ICT turnkey solution providers for many clients, by delivering successful up-to-date different ICT solutions to various organizations and universities across the country.
Back then, we started off with a few staff and have now grown to a company composed of professionals who have extensive experience in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) field, Management Information Systems, ICT Strategic Planning, and ERP solutions. Most of the core staff members have also been involved on different major ICT projects that have been carried out in the country.
Currently, we are engaged and well experienced in delivering several end to end turnkey high profile projects in Networking (LAN & WAN), Infrastructure, Data Center Solutions, Storage, Virtualization, Messaging systems, IP Telephony & Video Conferencing, Web application development, Intranet, system Integration, database design, ERP systems implementation, Security systems, and advanced trainings.
Capital: Where is your office situated?
Naod Missale: Our office is located at Africa Avenue Street/Bole Road, Friendship Building 6thFloor. Our office is well setup with high-speed Internet connection, PABX system; server based networking, conference and training rooms with full facilities. We also have a warehouse around Sarbet with around 300 square meters of compound to store stocking products.
Capital: What services do you provide to the Ethiopian market today?
Naod Missale: We have a plethora of services that we provide to our esteemed customers on the daily.
In no particular order, we provide what we call enterprise networking. To achieve this, we consult, implement, build, support, and manage every aspect of enterprise networks – from access, to wide area networks, data center to private cloud networking. We help our customers operate, optimize, and secure their network so they can manage performance, cost, and risk. Under the same, we provide: ‘Data Center Networking’ where we help clients transform their data centre networks by modernizing their technology, automating their operations, and reviewing and adjusting their financial and consumption models. We also do ‘Network Optimization’ where we provide analytical insight and technical solutions to help customers balance between cost and performance. In addition to providing wired and wireless solutions, we take a comprehensive approach to evolving our clients wide area network (WAN) need by providing clients with the ability to route traffic intelligently over multiple types of connectivity, without operational complexity.
Secondly, we provide cyber security services. We protect businesses from cyber-attacks by providing; Security consulting services – where we determine the client’s security weaknesses through security penetration testing to which we respond and remediate security incidents, when they occur. We also offer ‘Security Architecture Assessment’ where we provide a flexible way of evaluating customer’s security architecture, from policies to technical controls. Additionally, we offer, ‘Security Advisory Services’ by putting the right security policies, processes, architecture, and expertise in place through our security consulting services.
Thirdly, we provide cloud services where we deliver cloud capabilities that are as flexible as the public cloud but have the increased security and reliability of a private cloud. Our Enterprise Private Cloud enables our clients to create a hybrid environment that is scaled and responsive to their needs. Furthermore, we provide ‘Cloud Backups’ where we ensure business continuity and protection for enterprise workloads.
Fourthly, we deliver digital data management. As you well know, data is one of any organization’s most important assets and its effective management and usage is key to keeping a competitive advantage. To this end, we offer ‘Enterprise Content Management’ which helps clients to manage the full lifecycle of both structured and unstructured data, across business. We also enable effective data management from inception to archiving and/or deletion.
We also facilitate in bettering the collaboration and communication in the office through providing excellent technologies in voice and video as well as business messaging.
Last but not least, we also provide business continuity as a managed service to reduce costs and risk.
Capital: Unplanned downtime can be costly for any business that involves tech. What effective business continuity strategies do you use as a company?
Naod Missale: Our business impact and risk analysis consulting engagement identifies the systems and processes that could be affected by an unplanned outage, and analyses the effects of losing them. We examine all vulnerabilities and weaknesses that could contribute to a disaster, and help our customers prepare with the right disaster recovery solution.
Many business continuity and disaster recovery plans are no longer adequate. It is important to update procedures to cover data and applications on physical and virtual infrastructure, on premise, in data centers, hosting or colocation facilities, and in multiple clouds. We help with risk analysis, strategy, planning, and provide business continuity and disaster recovery as a managed service. We protect client’s hybrid environment and save them the cost of running their own recovery infrastructure.
Capital: The landscape of the technology industry more often than not requires partnerships for success at scale. Do you have partners or collaborators in business to that regard?
Naod Missale: We closely work with our foreign Gold partners of various ICT solutions requiring the highest levels of expertise. Hence, we are able and providing a wide range of ICT services to its customers. These include the likes of Cisco, VMware, Microsoft, HP and Dell.
Capital: What challenges has Symbol Technologies faced in the market and how was it able to overcome them?
Naod Missale: Like any other sector we do have challenges in financing and skilled man power. Nevertheless that has not hampered our day to day activities.
We have overcome our challenges by recruiting top notch staff. We are a strong believer in the importance of a team, and the wealth of experience that comes from a well-rounded set of experts. Our strength comes from our team members who are serving as the corner stone of the company, thereby putting us in a strategic position in the IT marketplace.
Capital: How many institutions have you worked with in regards to their IT infrastructure so far?
Naod Missale: Although it is difficult to know how many institutions we have been able to provide our services, in terms of numbers, I can summate and say we provide services to banks, insurances, and higher education institutions based on their technological needs. With regards to higher institutions we have worked with: Arba Minch University, Addis Ababa Science and Technology University, Mekelle University, Dire Dawa University, and Bahir Dar University.
Capital: What makes Symbol Technologies a standout solutions provider?
Naod Missale: We believe every company has its unique selling point. For us, we empower our customers (middle and large size companies in Ethiopia) by providing innovative and best-of-breed technology solutions, in the most efficient, affordable, reliable, and closest way. As a result, over the years and to date, we fulfill our customers’ needs and provide high satisfaction. Furthermore, we go a step ahead to build long-term partnerships with vendors whilst applying ethical business practices and maximizing the return on investment.