Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Big Data

South African Operator Eyes Radical Approach to Network Management

Article Image
With a view to missing out a few generations of legacy network management software implementations, a major South African telecoms network operator is eyeing up the potential of deploying cutting edge software to manage its infrastructure, according to IBM.

In a presentation at this week's SDN NFV World Congress in The Hague, Netherlands, about the potential impact of automation on network management, Ciaran Ryan, Development Director for IBM, provided a view about how the management of communications networks will involve.

According to the IT giant, which has worked with many large carriers on their support software requirements, network operators will migrate from reactive operations to proactive operations and ultimately to automated operations enabled by "cognitive" systems. Ryan said that communications service providers need to "outthink the network" and embrace "cognitive operations" that build on "cognitive analytics" to transform network business operations and enable the introduction of network functions virtualization (NFV).

Those cognitive functions come from the use of analytics capabilities and artificial intelligence (AI) tools, added the IBM man. Automation, he noted, can't be "just the automation of existing functions… it has to include machine learning and analytics," he stated.

IBM, it should be noted, is regarded as a one of the leading experts in machine learning thanks to its 'Watson' predictive analytics developments. (See IBM: AI Needs More Than Just Technology.)

Ryan also noted that a major South African network operator had revealed its belief that such capabilities would be important in the near future: "Ultimately, computing is about networked intelligence, and the real impact of the Internet and devices will occur once that translates into automation and machine intelligence. So cognitive computing will transform our world," a senior executive from the operator had noted during an exchange with IBM.

IBM is not revealing the identity of the operator, but Telkom, Vodacom and MTN are the leading network operators and ones that would most likely gain the most from the automation of network management processes: All three have existing relationships with the IT systems giant.

There's little doubt, though, that network operators of all sizes and in all geographies are exploring ways in which they can automate their operations and make their processes more agile and seamless and that there is an opportunity for operators in Africa to leapfrog some legacy network management system deployments and embrace emerging analytics and early machine learning capabilities as they become operationally viable. It will be interesting to see if an operator in South Africa could become an early mover in that transformation towards automation.

For more on the topic of automation, see these articles from our sister publication, Light Reading:

— Ray Le Maistre, International Group Editor, Light Reading for Connecting Africa.

Innovation hub


Hot startup of the month: SA's FlexClub

South African startup FlexClub has launched a managed marketplace that helps independent drivers on digital platforms become vehicle owners.


Econet and X's Project Taara join forces to connect Africa

Econet Group and Google X's Project Taara are teaming up to deploy new high-speed Internet technology to communities across sub-Saharan Africa.

More Innovation hub

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Latest video

More videos

AfricaCom perspectives


AfricaCom Interview: Onica Makwakwa on closing the digital gender gap

The Alliance for Affordable Internet's head of Africa, Onica Makwakwa, shares her views on how to narrow the digital gender gap and the challenges keeping women offline on the continent.


AfricaCom Interview: Tunde Fafunwa on how the ACIP is fighting COVID-19

Tunde Fafunwa from the UN Economic Commission for Africa explains how the Africa Communication and Information Platform (ACIP) is helping Africa's battle against COVID-19.


AfricaCom Interview: Temidayo Oniosun on Africa's space and satellite industry

Space in Africa founder, Temidayo Oniosun, shares his views on the challenges and opportunities in the African space and satellite industry.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Partner perspectives

SD-WAN and satellite – how MNOs and telcos can enjoy the best of both worlds
By Ofer Asif, SVP BizDev, marketing and strategy at Spacecom

Africa's mobile operators need better roaming monetization for growth
By Damion Rose, product manager for Mobile Signaling and Roaming Solutions at BICS

How Africa's operators are driving socio-economic development
By Clémentine Fournier, VP Sales Africa at BICS

All Partner Perspectives

Upcoming events

Africa Green ICT Forum
December 2, 2020
Virtual Event
More Upcoming events

Flash poll

All polls

Archived webinars

AfricaCom 2020 Digital Symposium - Day 2

Session One

Mobile Money 2.0: the Bright Future of Mobile Financial Service Innovation
Date: 08/20/20 @ 11:00 A.M. SAST

Speaker: Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Africa was the birthplace of Mobile Money and while it continues to rise in popularity, the industry is quickly evolving and launching more mobile-based financial services every day. In this Connecting Africa online event, local analysts and industry stakeholders will discuss how telcos are disrupting the financial services space and what the rise of Mobile Money 2.0 will look like for Africa.

  • From cash to mobile: heading towards a cashless society
  • Expanding MFS offerings beyond mobile money transfers
  • MNOs vs banks vs fintechs: an evolving competitive landscape
  • Unconnected and unbanked: fintech to improve financial inclusion
  • The rise of micro-loans and insurance through mobile platforms

12:15 P.M. - 12:30 P.M. BREAK

Session Two

Connecting the Next Billion: Strategies for Getting Africa On-Grid
Date 08/20/20 @ 12:30 P.M. SAST

Speaker: Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Africa has the fastest growing population in the world and also the youngest, with 60% of Africans under the age of 25. It is clear that the next billion connected are going to be the mobile-only generation. This digital symposium will bring industry experts together to discuss Africa’s digital divide and how to get devices into the hands of young Africans and empower them to join the digital revolution.

  • Who’s Driving? The role of government & regulator, private tech companies, and public-private partnerships
  • Device affordability: are we reaching a tipping point?
  • Status check: Satellite vs Fiber and the enduring infrastructure gap
  • Exploring the wider societal and economic benefits of a connected, digitally literate continent

More Webinars


Safaricom Spark Fund Portfolio

Infographics archive


AfricaCom 2019 Preview

Slideshow archive

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up