AfricaCom: How NFV & SDN can help African operators address capacity and coverage


At a time when operators are looking forward to address the challenge of increasing network coverage and capacity in order to meet the growing demand for data – NFV (Network Functions Virtualisation) and SDN (Software Defined Networking) offer new ways for telecom operators to design, build, operate and manage networks in cost effective manner.

Experts at the 2015 AfricaCom Conference from 17 – 19 November 2015 in Cape Town, will unpack these very hot topics which are sure to generate some intense discussion.


Pressures that are being noted by telecom operators in Africa include the continual threat from Over the Top (OTT) service providers, as well as the pressure to reduce costs and significantly increase agility and speed by which services are created and deployed., an industry-specific website, notes other trends affecting operators’ businesses are the increased innovation in devices used to access networks, the many different apps and services used daily and the increasing computing and storage needs. As the underlying network that connects all of these things remains essentially unchanged, this increase in demand is stretching its limits. For this reason, investment in NFV & SDN has never been more important.

George Debbo, a South African SDN and NFV expert speaking at AfricaCom, says that “NFV and SDN offer specific benefits to African Operators that face challenges of low coverage, but high capacity demands; limited technical personnel skills base; and auxiliary infrastructure (such as grid power and environmental facilities) not being supportive of deploying sophisticated and intelligent telecommunication systems, especially in rural areas.”

Operators in Africa have realised the importance of investing in SDN and NFV now. A survey done in March 2015, found that 76% of African operators say NFV/SDN is the top, or one of the top, priorities for the next 12 months. The survey also found that 83% of African operators intend to roll out virtualised architecture or services, into the live network between now and 2017.

Paolo Campoli, Head of Middle East & Africa Global SP Sales and SP CTO for the EMEA Sales Region at Cisco – Lead sponsor of the SDN & Network Virtualisation programme at AfricaCom – also added his comments saying: “Cisco’s NFV architecture will help African Service Providers to transform their networks to prepare for the digitization in the IoT/IoE era. We have combined NFV with two complementary technology initiatives namely Open Source to help free an organization’s technical talent to innovate and SDN, which is enabling organizations to accelerate application deployment and delivery whilst dramatically reducing IT costs. SDN also enhances the benefits of data center virtualization, increasing resource flexibility and utilization and reduces infrastructure costs and overhead and enables network programmability and code development to bring applications and networks closer.

“The result is a modern infrastructure that can deliver new applications and services in minutes, rather than days or weeks required in the past delivering with a platform capable of handling the most demanding networking needs of today and tomorrow.

“Cisco is sponsoring the SDN Theatre at AfricaCom 2015 because in Africa, we’re already seeing strong demand for SDN from industries with complex networks that need to quickly process large amounts of data and this includes Service Providers in particular. Cisco is committed, with its SDN strategy, to foster an entire ecosystem of young programmers, talents and partners in Africa that will develop applications that talk better to the network and networks that are friendlier to applications.”

Other expert speakers will discuss the key issues around SDN and network optimisation in a full programme of conference and demos. Speakers from companies such as Vodafone, Huawei, IBM, HP, Italtel as well as independent consultants, will join Cisco in hosting discussions on this high tech topic.

Topics will include: ‘An overview of SDN & NFV: Where are we now?’ by Paolo Campoli of Cisco; ‘The roadmap to SDN & NFV: Insight into Vodafone’s virtualisation strategy’ hosted by Vodafone’s Janine Rebelo; and Unified ICT Infrastructure Enabling SDN & NFV by Huawei Technologies’ Jiang Xue.