How have operations evolved since you first entered Ghana, and what was the significance of entering the market?
Oracle has been in this market for two years, although we have been present on the African continent for 30 years or so, with a strong customer base in Ghana via our partner network. We established a physical presence here at the right time. The entire industry and economic environment is undergoing transformational change. We have seen customers struggling to deal with the impact of digital disruption and have helped them with our innovative solutions to deal with the changes that are happening in the wider marketplace. The global IT industry is going through a paradigm shift with cloud adoption and the market in Ghana is no different. We have a unique cloud offering, which puts us in a good position to address our customers' needs. Cloud solutions are a key component of the digital transformation that is sweeping across the industry.
What is Oracle's strategy with regards to establishing partnerships in Ghana?
Partnerships are extremely important for us; we have a thriving global partner network that is seen as an extension of the Oracle family, and in a market like Ghana, historically we have depended significantly on partners, especially before we entered the market with a physical office. We look at ways to build capacity within the economy in Ghana and also to foster strong relationships with the tech community, looking for ways to partner with these entrepreneurs in a form of innovation hubs. We are also looking at ways to help these innovation hubs understand some of the emerging technologies like cloud computing, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, chatbots, blockchain, and others. We also try to find ways to empower entrepreneurs and businesses to increase their capacity to understand trends and build upon their skillsets to play a role in the global economy as far as innovation is concerned.
What is the key to speeding up public sector acceptance of cloud, and what measures would you like to see?
The key elements here are an open economy built on strong foundations of competitiveness, thus allowing ease of doing business. Anything in that direction is what we truly welcome. The future is bright—International Development Company (IDC) predicted ICT spending in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa region to reach USD243 billion in 2017. From all indications, Africa is expected to see a rise in IT spending through investments in cloud, big data, social, and mobile. Emerging technologies and trends such as IoT, robotics, cognitive systems, virtual reality, 3D printing, and new generation security will be key drivers. Another key element is the need for many skillsets. We also welcome any effort that is aimed at building the capacity of Ghana's youth as we can only succeed with a skilled workforce. We support the government in this direction with our own education initiative designed to support education establishments, universities, and tertiary institutions in building their IT capacity. At the moment, we have about 13 universities that are on board with this initiative.
What major challenges and risks do you face operating in the Ghanaian market?
For us, the biggest challenge in driving this cloud agenda is the initial pushback that is mainly founded around concerns of security and data residency. Some organizations are not comfortable with parting with their data; however, these fears have been proven to be unfounded, and companies are warming up to cloud. We, as a vendor, have some of the most sophisticated security infrastructure, and there are few organizations that can match this level of security infrastructure within their own data centers. Another challenge that we have also encountered is the level of skills, and we are active in helping the government to bridge that gap, as we need an abundance of skills locally to be able to succeed.