3 Lessons from delivering Internet connectivity in the Middle East & Africa

3 lessons from delivering Internet connectivity in the Middle East & Africa

May 28, 2020

With SD-WAN playing a key role in driving network transformations, the relevance of the Internet as the underlay of choice continues to grow at a similar pace. And while sourcing ISPs can be quite straightforward within your country or region, global businesses are often finding hurdles when bringing internet connectivity to offshore locations.   

This is no exception for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, where internal conflict, strict regulations (or lack thereof), and limited infrastructure can often get in the way of your connectivity projects.   

Since 2004, our team of experts has been helping global customers to overcome these challenges, building expertise and contacts, resulting in the following three lessons to consider if entering this region:  

 

  1. The importance of working “by the book” in the Middle East

The Middle East is strategically located between Europe, Africa and Asia. Due to investor-friendly legislation and favorable financial and tax structures, many of its cities have become business hubs for global companies. However, when it comes to sourcing local internet access in the Middle East, some countries can be particularly strict when it comes to regulations. One example is the United Arab Emirates (UAE).   

The existing duopoly in UAE has great influence in the process of sourcing and contracting Internet access in that region. The government requires to hire these services locally – without any intermediaries.  

 Though this makes it seem that it’s impossible to outsource the management of local ISPs, Expereo’s staff met personally with Directors from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in UAE to ensure we can continue to support our global customers in the region by facilitating the provision of local Internet access. Hence, we can still arrange the delivery, payment and management of local Internet connectivity, while guiding customers through the process.  

 

  1. Understanding Africa’s connectivity challenges 

 We were tasked with connecting a customer site in Algeria at a deserted location 10 hours away from the capital, which, to the customer’s surprise, we delivered in six-weeks. Sometimes this can be hard even in urban areas around the world.  

 When it comes to Internet connectivity, Africa has changed notably and continues to evolve rapidly. In recent years we’ve seen better connections to submarine cables and more fiber being rolled out in more countries. Although broadband is still not widely available, wireless or VSAT are an alternative for backup and in remote locations.  

 With 50+ countries, Africa is diverse and unpredictable. The political landscape may change from one country to the other. Regular power cuts still happen in some countries, and your delivery plans can be disrupted or surprisingly quick.   

 Regardless, the main lesson shared by our experts is that the partnerships you build with local providers, combined with rigorous and a close follow-up from your team, is the key to success when dealing with network projects in this region.  

 

  1. In times of conflict, we are there to help 

Companies or organizations with sites in countries affected by internal turmoil may require local Internet connectivity. In many of these cases, it’s not the strong regulations but the lack of them that might come in the way. Service Level Agreements can be limited or might quickly be affected by unexpected events. Contingency plans should be in place and, depending on the country and its infrastructure, you should consider building resiliency into your networks.  

 Expereo has been serving customers in countries such as Libya and Somalia during stable and difficult times. By maintaining close contact with local partners and putting their wellbeing as a number one priority, with strict security measures in place for field engineers, you can maintain customer requirements, keeping them updated on the status of their connections, and up and running where needed.  

 Are you interested in finding out more? Head over to our Global Internet service page. 

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