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Bringing Africa Up to High Speed

It’s been a great year for Vertiv in terms of business – the company went public this year, was adjudged as the leader in data center cooling market and the company continues to invest in expanding its footprint in the regional market, especially in Africa. In a conversation with Arabian Reseller, Pierre Havenga, the Managing Director for MEA at Vertiv, speaks about the opportunities and challenges in 2020, his plans for 2021, and the company’s focus on the African market

The year 2020 has been a sort of mix for many. While some strategies worked positively, some refused to take off. For Vertiv, a company that focuses on digital transformation, by providing equipment and services for the datacenter, 2020 has been a fantastic year. Pierre Havenga, the Managing Director for MEA at Vertiv, asserts, “We will have another record year growth is double digits. I am really excited about what we have been able to achieve and I am looking forward to what’s in store for 2021.”

Growth in 2020
The company went public in early 2020 and in October 2020, Vertiv announced that its Board of Directors had declared the company’s first-ever annual cash dividend of $0.01 per share of the company’s Class A common stock. The cash dividend will be payable on December 17, 2020, to shareholders of record of Class A common stock, including holders of record of the company’s units, at the close of business on December 2, 2020.

Then in November 2020, the company announced that it had added at least 100 jobs through the coronavirus pandemic because of the soaring demand for datacenter equipment and related services. The company had then announced that the hybrid work environment will be around a little while and hence, the company’s objective to grow faster than the market.

Vertiv was also recently ranked as the global leader in the rapidly evolving data center cooling market. In a market research report published by Omdia, titled “Datacenter Thermal Management Report 2020”, it was stated that Vertiv had a 23.5% share of the global data center cooling market – more than 10% higher than its nearest rival.

The research report also suggested that the market for datacenter thermal technology was set to increase from $3.3 billion in 2020 to more than $4.3 billion in 2024. Furthermore, the report said that Vertiv also led the global market for perimeter thermal technologies with a 37.5% market share, which is more than 20% higher than the next largest supplier.

The New Normal
“If we look at 2020, we look at the opportunities such as people working from home, or even the enterprise sector such as the government or the medical fraternity, we see that all of a sudden people realised they need to put in lots of importance to information, data, and the availability of it,” Havenga explains. “2020 was a good year and we foresee that the trend will continue into the new year with the new way of working.”

According to Havenga, the new normal is allowing people more time to work rather than travel, especially in the Middle East and Africa region. “There are challenges as well especially in terms of spending quality face to face time with colleagues and customers. However, though people are getting used to the new way of working, we are hoping to start traveling very soon to meet our customers and partners in the region,” he adds.

Africa Focus
And the company is doubling down on its commitment to the African market. The company recently announced two major distribution partnerships – one to cover East Africa and the other to cover South Africa. The distribution partnership with the Fajoba Group will meet the growing demand for its popular IT infrastructure support, such as the Vertiv Liebert itON Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).

According to the company, this is a cost-effective, single-phase UPS with line-interactive technology that is ideal for protecting desktop computers and standalone IT equipment. The products are already available to Fajoba resellers in Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda.

The second partnership was with Cyber Security South Africa (CSSA), which will address the current data center challenges being faced in the country. This will be done by enabling availability through Vertiv’s premium infrastructure technologies and speed of delivery through CSSA’s developed distribution capabilities. The partnership also covers the company’s latest products including the Vertiv Liebert GXT5 UPS and the Vertiv Edge 500 to 3000VA.

“The Middle East and Levant region has had major data growth, which means new projects are upcoming, which is exciting for us,” explains Havenga. ”Africa is waking up, we will see lots of fiber coming into Africa over the next couple of months. The two Africa projects amount to about 78,000 km of sea cable that’s going to touch Africa in multiple places, which will help people from transitioning from 2G to 3G in lots of countries in Africa.”

According to Havenga, about 45% of mobile subscribers in Africa are still on 2G, and getting all these subscribers onto 3G will create a huge amount of opportunities. “We are thus spending a lot of time and funds to expand our footprint to bring products closer to our customers, speed up the delivery, and I foresee a huge increase in Vertiv’s market penetration in 2021.”

Havenga further adds that digitalisaiton will continue to grow and the amount of data will keep on increasing. “Laws relating to how data is handled is also changing due to various data privacy acts. So we will see a lot of cloud service providers will be forced to manage that data traffic within the boundaries of a country and that will create more opportunities.”

Apart from datacenter products and solutions, Vertiv also offers lots of products for the telecom sector, small and medium businesses, and so on. The company also offers edge solutions that use modular integration techniques to tailor solutions for your application while offering the benefits of a streamlined process.

Vertiv customises products such as SmartMod and SmartMod Infrastructure, which can work through laws and regulations, and interact with the state, local, and federal officials as required. The company’s global solutions can allow companies to implement uniquely customised modular edge data centers of any scale that are built to maximise flexibility, improve scale, and boost efficiency.

“While there are opportunities for such solutions, the size of the opportunities differ when we compare the Middle East, Levant, and Africa regions. For the Middle East and the Levant, we see lots of uptake of 1MW to 4MW building blocks, while in Africa, the demand is for building blocks that fall into the 500KW category,” explains Havenga.

Havenga says for 2021, he would like to increase his company’s focus in the region. “The Middle East and Africa market consist of more than 60 countries, with 54 of those falling into Africa. We would like to expand our footprint in the region by focusing on efficiency and productivity. The pandemic was an adjustment for everyone. What we have learned from 2020 is that we can do better in 2021,” he concludes.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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