Interview with Geoffrey Shimanyula, Chief Commercial Officer of Liquid Telecom Kenya

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Geoffrey Shimanyula is the Chief Commercial Officer, Liquid Telecom Kenya. Shim previously worked at SimbaNET Com Limited as the General Manager. He has a wealth of experience having worked in key leadership positions in various industries across the continent. Shim is an expert in technology, finance, big data analytics, and business development.

Big data analytics is the process through which data scientists set parameters for the information they need for a particular analytics application and then work on their own or with data engineers and IT staffers to assemble it for use.

In this interview, Shimanyula highlights how businesses and individuals can and will benefit from Big Data analytics while discussing the misconception that Big Data Analytics could be a violation of personal data.

Some detractors of Big Data Analytics have argued that the process could be a violation of personal data. What is your opinion on the matter?

Big Data Analytics reviews data loads in thousands of gigabytes to detect patterns and characteristics, and has no interest or capacity to identify any one individual’s behaviour. In this, there are minimal chances that any piece of data will be tracked back to a specific individual. Rather, it is the resulting data insights that can then be used to make certain actions on persons who fit the characteristics for better services and address specific products needs

What are some of the benefits of Big Data Analytics?

Big data is essential for many reasons. Traditionally, businesses would need to carry out surveys which included focus groups, individual interviews and email surveys. This took a lot of time to put together. With big data one can easily know how to improve their businesses, what the customers want and how to package it by simply mining readily available data within their reach.

Big data helps a business know how best to develop their products so as to suit the customer. Through data analytics a company can very easily assess customer consumption trends. The company can then use whatever information they learnt from these trends to anticipate customer needs and know how best to meet customer satisfaction by timely availing products and services they need .

Secondly, by analysing big data, a business can get a better understanding of current market conditions. For example, by analysing customers’ purchasing behaviours, a company can find out which products make the most sales or which of their products are trending most. The business can then use this information to steer ahead of their competitors.

Many countries in Africa are part of the Third Industrial Revolution (the Digital Revolution).Do you believe that Big Data Analytics will help the continent catch up with the rest of the world in terms of technological development?

Africa, compared to the rest of the world, has less documented internet users and has low and unreliable connectivity. The ICT sector in every country in Africa will need to build, in partnership with stakeholders, the soft and hard infrastructure that will enable the continent to be able to bring the fundamental changes in the digital economy.

Digitalization and more specifically, the development of Internet, has played a major role in the continents development and has brought a great opportunity to transforming Africa. In the very near future, Africa will catch up with the rest of world in various socio-economic sectors including education, health, governance and security.

We are heading into a time when Africa will be vastly connected and internet more affordable. Governments and companies will heavily rely on big data to manage the economy, infrastructure, social services, and agribusiness.

However, big data analytics will take several years to fully catch up and be operationalised widely. Governments and companies need to make huge investments in infrastructure especially, big data analytical centres, to fully enjoy its benefits.

Liquid Telecom has built a comprehensive high speed fibre network across 13 African countries and expanding, bringing the continent a step closer to bridging the gap.

Liquid Telecom is the leading independent data, voice and IP provider in eastern, central and southern Africa. What are some of the challenges that the company has faced during its expansion in the continent?

Building a fibre network across Africa comes with several challenges such as huge costs involved, rough terrains, availability of stable electricity to power the fibre, political unrest in some parts of the continent, and fibre cuts.  And in the developed and stable countries, we still have to grapple with fibre cuts as many countries continue to build new roads and expand existing ones.

That said and done. We have managed to build Africa’s largest independent fibre network, spanning over 50,000km, and operates state-of-the-art data centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Nairobi, with a combined 6,800 square metres of rack space.

According to Liquid Telecom, consumers are the biggest winners of Big Data Analytics. Would you care to elaborate? Cost and availability of products

Consumers are the biggest winners of big data analytics, simply put, they enjoy high-quality products and services that are specifically targeted to their needs and behaviour, with enhanced availability and convenience.

For instance, in the smartphone industry, manufacturers are driven by customers’ needs and feedback hence developing variants of products for specific niche markets and price consideration. This has been the main driver of smartphone high penetration in Africa especially Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

This is a replica in all other sectors. At the end, consumers are able to find better deals on consumer products and services.

Liquid Telecom has established state-of-the-art data centres in Nairobi Johannesburg and in Cape Town. Are there plans to set up more in other parts of the continent?

Liquid Telecom is committed to drive Africa Digital Future through its infrastructure that include data centres for colocation and cloud services. The company continues to engage with other stakeholders in Africa to drive the expansion agenda.

For instance, in January 2018 Liquid Telecom partnered with Strathmore Business School (SBS), the graduate business school of Strathmore University in Nairobi to launch a new data analytics centre focused on data-driven research and practices for African businesses. This collaboration facilitate data analytics services such as data mining, predictive analysis and exploratory data analysis.


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