Integr8 IT Targets Zimbabwe

Computing

South Africa-based Information Technology giant Integr8 IT has entered into negotiations with a local company to invest in the country's information technology sector this year.

Integr8 IT co-owner and founder Mr Rob Sussman said the company's strategy to expand to the rest of Africa is to go with local equity partners and make empowerment a key component to invest back into businesses and people.

"We think Zimbabwe is going to be a very good area for us, we are discussing with one of our clients to potentially open offices in Zimbabwe and I think the opportunity is great.

"Now we want to go into Zimbabwe's ICT industry when everyone else is getting out. We want to buck that trend," said Mr Sussman.

Intentions by the ICT company to invest in Zimbabwe through partnering with locals confirms the impartiality of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act that seeks to cede 51 percent shareholding in all foreign companies to locals.

Companies have been asked to submit their proposed indigenisation structures amid fears that the regulations would slow down foreign direct investment into the country.

Impala Platinum Mines, a holding company of Zimbabwe Platinum Mines and Arcelor Mittal SA who are bidding for a 60 percent stake in the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, are some of the companies that have openly expressed concerns over the indigenisation law.

The Integr8 Group has come out in support of indigenisation saying they will partner locals, making empowerment a key component.

Integr8 Group's objective is to have partners in every African region. The group is operational in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana and they have opened offices with local partners.

Integr8 Group was founded in 2001 at a time when companies were exiting rather than investing in the African technology sector.

Nine years later, the firm has grown organically into the largest private ICT company on the continent and they are aiming to take the group's solutions to the public sector.

The group plans to offer hosted services such as cloud computing, XaaS (anything as a service) and Web 2.0 services to the public sector.

Other projects in the pipeline include a shared services nerve centre for Government with a 24/7 call centre, support uptime, feedback and application monitoring.

Integr8's objective is actually to provide hosted services in South Africa and the rest of Africa for local companies to use local services, thereby keeping revenues in their country.

"We will use those hosted services locally to attract international investments. We want international companies to use South Africa and African hosted services", said Mr Sussman.

Currently, most hosted services are provided by American firms and African players cannot compete due to bandwidth constraints.

However, this is set to change with the laying of several fibre optic cables across the continent.

Mr Sussman said the public sector has historically been exposed to very poor service.

The Integr8 team sees the African continent as a land of opportunity.

Most recently, Integr8 Group signed a massive US$6,8 billion joint venture agreement with Mahindra Satyam, one of the largest ICT companies in India, guaranteeing a strategic partnership in infrastructure and managed services.

The Herald