MTN Pilots Cloud Computing Services In 6 African Markets

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VENTURES AFRICA - MTN Business, a subsidiary of the MTN network, has launched a pilot project for its cloud bouquet of services that will provide a single point of contact for SMEs in Africa. MTN Cloud is targeted at SMEs in Africa to help reduce the cost of doing business by offering ICT solutions.

MTN’s Executive for enterprise business ‚Farhad Khan‚ said the pilot project would be carried out in six of MTN’s Africa market – Cameroon‚ Cote d’Ivoire‚ Ghana‚ Nigeria‚ Uganda and South Africa.

The new cloud service – a Cloud Service Brokerage model centralises access to services‚ where a third party‚ in this case MTN‚ acts as the single point of contact for customers. MTN is the first mobile network operator in Africa to adopt the Cloud Service Brokerage model.

Cloud computing refers to the use of internet to provide delivery of technology services including software and data over the Internet either from a remote location, mainly through data centres, or at the client’s premises. Among other things, the Cloud Service Brokerage model helps to ease administrative burden for companies so instead of dealing with multiple service providers‚ they deal with one.

Speaking on the newly introduced service, Khan said, “A particular challenge facing small and medium-sized businesses in Africa is the high cost of information technology software and hardware.This includes the licence fees. What MTN Cloud services seeks to do is enable SMEs to minimise these costs‚ and at the same time improve productivity and efficiency.”

Khan explained that the overarching objective of MTN Cloud services was to provide customers in the selected markets with “peace of mind‚ as well as affordable business management tools at reasonable price.”

“We want our enterprise customers to focus on running their businesses knowing that their data is kept safely and securely‚” he said.

MTN Business has however, identified a number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in these markets to test its cloud services and product. The trial period of the cloud services starts on Thursday with selected customers and will end by the end of January next year (2013).

Participating Companies will gain access to a variety of MTN Cloud services which include Office Desktop, an e-mail and collaborative software, Mozypro, a back-up service for the effective management of files and servers, and Dialcom, an on-demand video conferencing offering. MTN will also provide McAfee (a popular anti-virus and anti-spam security software) and Averiware catering for companies’ HR, accounting, finance and sales force automation needs, and Microsoft SharePoint, a staff and cross functional collaborative tool including Microsoft Dynamics CRM, a customer relations management tool.

Users will be able to pay for MTN’s cloud offering using their airtime or MTN Mobile Money. Payment for the services will be in the local currency of the different markets.

MTN’s introduction of cloud computing service into the market is part of its move to provide a wide range of information and communications technology services in addition to its mobile services that it is providing in the continent.