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Xalam: What's in a Name?

Guy Zibi

We are extremely pleased to have launched Xalam Analytics, our Africa Middle East (AME) research initiative in partnership with Light Reading and Heavy Reading. (See Light Reading Launches Africa/Middle East Research Service.)

There is much meaning in this name. Xalam is the Ouolof (West African) name for a long-stringed instrument, one renowned for its unique, peculiar sounds. The Xalam was the accompanying instrument of choice for West Africa's oral history-telling. It has been a witness to, and has offered the background soundtrack for empire building and demise in West Africa since the 13th century.

Xalam also stands for Salaam, the primary greeting salutation in Arabic. But Salaam is no mere greeting; it is part bestowing of peace and respect, part warm enquiry on the status of one's well-being. And so we have brought the same mix into our research initiative. Unique African and Middle Eastern sounds, witnessing and analysis of history in the making (digital and business, this one), digital infrastructure empires, warm, but deep introspection into what makes AME digital infrastructure markets tick. Xalam Analytics.

The transformative impact of the telecoms of the past 15 years in AME has been exceedingly well documented, as anyone who googles "Mpesa" would attest. The AME telecoms revolution -- a most overused, but apt term here -- has transformed consumer and enterprise communications, fostered technology and business model innovation, and brought in more than $100 billion in capital technology investment to the region over the past ten years. AME markets are an intriguing, complex and disparate lot, from the fast-expanding FTTH deployments of Rwanda to accelerated demand for virtualized environments and smart cities in Dubai, IoT in Kenya, and making a Tier 3 data center work in a country with epileptic power infrastructure.

They also matter; AME communications service providers generate more than $100 billion a year in service revenues and spend upwards of $30 billion annually maintaining and modernizing their networks. With CSPs in the region on the cusp of another phase of deep-seated change and technology ROI (return on investment) increasingly tight, having an independent, locally-rooted, beneath-the-headline perspective on the fundamental underpinnings of communications service provider (CSP) growth and technology adoption in AME has never been so vital.

Want to know more about what's happening in the Middle East and Africa? For the latest communications networking developments in those regions, check out the dedicated Middle East/Africa channel here at Light Reading.

Enter Xalam Analytics and a partnership with Light Reading and Heavy Reading to provide one of the most extensive research services available covering the AME region. We believe AME markets are in the early stages of a seminal phase of change driven by hyperconnectivity, accelerated enterprise digitization, mobility, cloud and network virtualization. At Xalam, our research and advisory work tracks these trends and focuses on digital infrastructure markets in the region, with an emphasis on enterprise and carrier markets. We are an independent analyst research firm, building on a near two-decade experience of industry analysis and strategic custom work across AME.

We have developed arguably the most extensive and detailed enterprise databases and economic models available on the enterprise and carrier market in the region, covering multiple segments (broadband, data centers, cloud, mobility, etc.), enterprises from the informal to the MNC, and a multiplicity of industry verticals.

Our partnership with Light Reading allows us to bring a unique, in-depth perspective to Light Reading readers and customers on the dynamics driving the buildout of the AME infrastructure -- at the same time, we will leverage Light Reading and Heavy Reading's expertise and leadership in IP networks, network virtualization, mobility and cloud analysis, adapting it to the AME operational context to strengthen our research into the evolution of CSPs for our readers and customers in the region.

Sounds good? Do not take our word for it; our analysis will be available to Heavy Reading readers on www.heavyreading.com, as well as on our site at www.xalamanalytics.com; you can follow us on twitter, or email me at any time, at gzibi@xalamanalytics.com. We look forward to sharing our analysis, projections, and unique perspective into some of the most compelling and innovative digital markets around the world.

The AME digital market is exploding, Xalam Analytics and Heavy Reading are there to analyze it.

— Guy Zibi, Chief Analyst, Xalam Analytics, the Africa and Middle East research unit of Heavy Reading

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User Rank: Blogger
7/10/2015 | 4:27:33 PM
Re: E unum pluribus
Indeed; technology infrastructure demand has always been quite strong in Africa. Low penetration in a number of areas (e.g. broadband), plus the need to build an entire digital infrastructure mean that's set to continue over the long run. It's not an easy market by any means (the country fragmentation is a challenge), but likely far more open than China may be to foreign suppliers, I'd agree with that.  
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/10/2015 | 11:29:45 AM
Re: E unum pluribus
The market opportunity for technology suppliers sounds a little challenging, but it's probably more open than a market like China, which looks huge and impressive from the outside but is pretty tightly controlled. Would you agree with that?
User Rank: Blogger
7/10/2015 | 11:14:01 AM
Re: E unum pluribus
There most certainly are distinct differences. In many ways the AME region is a miniature model of global market diversity. A small group of markets (in the Gulf mostly) are as advanced with new technologies as anything you'll find in Western Europe and North America. A second, intermediary group of countries (Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa) have a unique mix of market size and a technology sophistication, but are still held back by poor supporting infrastructure. They're much better than they are showing - and they're showing a lot already.

And a third group consists of relatively small economies that have either leapfrogged everybody else (Rwanda has pretty solid 4G services these days, and Orange is going all-IP in Mauritius), or are a few years behind. So quite an eclectic mix indeed. But part of the charm lies in this diversity. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/10/2015 | 10:52:33 AM
E unum pluribus
Guy -- We tend to think of Africa as one "emerging market." And there are some operators who have pan-African portfolios. But there are clear and distinct differences on a nation-by-nation basis, correct?
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