Digital Disruption presents a plethora of opportunities for Africa-IT expert

On 9 December 2019 at 09:33

Digital financial transactions provide cheaper and more secure services and, research has shown, that the blockchain service can help financial institutions generate savings of up to $27 billion by the year 2030.

This was revealed by Wisely Phiri, group managing director and founder of Malawi’s information and communications and technology (ICT) company, SPARC Systems Limited, in his public lecture delivered at Carnegie Mellon University Africa (CMU-Africa) in Kigali, Rwanda on Thursday, October 28 where he was chosen to be among high profile professionals to give a public lecture.

Under a lecture theme, ‘Digital Disruption: Opportunities for Africa, Innovating Beyond Borders’, Phiri said digital innovations are positively disrupting people’s normal way of doing business.

“Because of various procedures and regulations, the banking sector was normally slow to innovate but of late various innovations have forced the banks to rethink their strategies. Firstly, finance and technology (Fintech), has allowed the banking sector to offer 24/7 real-time transactions without the need of the customers to visit the banks. We have seen banks embracing Fintech. Mobile banking, m-wallets and payment apps have now been embraced by the banks.”

Phiri observed that with the distributed ledger system, that blockchain is offering various possibilities such as fraud detection, interbank transfer, prevention of money laundering, among other advantages.

“As SPARC, our main vertical has been the financial, telecommunication and the public sectors which have been disrupted with technology,” he said.

Talking about telecommunication, Phiri said that telecommunication companies are no longer voice companies like they used to be following the convergence of telecommunications and data/ICT.

“Companies like WhatsApp disrupted how we communicate, changing the communication paradigm. Skype, Viber, WeChat have entered the market to pressure the prices down for text and voice thereby eating into the revenue of telecommunication companies.

“This, in turn, made telecom companies rethink how they do their billing. Now you are having social bundles and WhatsApp bundles for example.”

He said, going forward, companies are going into service-oriented architecture as they are moving away from innovating around technologies but into innovating around services.

“Companies are looking to add new services to capture consumer’s attention; accelerate time to market these new services with technology advancements; map end-to-end customer journeys from acquisition, engagement, retention and use Big Data Analytics to focused market segmentation and product hyper-personalization.”

He told the students who would want to venture into the technology career that if they want to innovate beyond borders, they have to think of the country classification and how they fit into the future of technology.

“The future is now and at Sparc, like our friends at CMU-Africa, we are envisioning an Africa where we lead change. Let’s be the change we need.

“Africa is an economy of 1.3 billion people by UN estimates. This is a continent with some of the poorest people of whom many live in remote areas; it is also classified as fastest growing in terms of mobile and mobile money penetration and one of the richest continents in natural resources.

“As Sparc, we have been asked how we choose countries to operate in. For example, having originally come from Malawi, most people would think the logical thing to do if we want to go beyond borders would be to open in South Africa since this country is in southern Africa and it’s more developed than Malawi.

“My answer is; when you want to innovate beyond borders there are rules to follow. Firstly, know your industry and have a solid foundation. You can’t fail to be a lizard in your backyard and expect to be a crocodile in someone else backyard; understand your market well and be specific on what problems you are solving. Then, understand the classification of the countries in your industry.”

SPARC Systems Limited was established in 2013 but it is making inroads in Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia’s ICT markets where it has several branches.
Wisely left a successful international IT company and set up his own in 2013 and n two years, grew into a formidable force with a leading market share in the IT trade and five offices in Malawi, Zambia, and Rwanda.
He currently employs 52 full time and over 300 part-time and out-sourced staff.

Wisley’s impact goes beyond SPARC as he has served the ICT Association of Malawi (ICTAM) as its president (2016-2018) and during his term, the number of paying members went from just 20 to 1,051.

He also supports numerous charitable causes including paying fees for students in various universities in Malawi.

To date, he has raised funds for 105 financially challenged students at risk of being withdrawn from the University of Malawi. Furthermore, he mentors institutions, IT experts and up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

Academically, Wisely graduated from the University of Malawi in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering with Distinction.

Recently, he was an Adjunct Lecturer at the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST).

From 2017 until 2018, he lectured in Business Innovations and Operating Systems which are some of his core expertise areas including database and storage systems, cloud services and data centers.

Wisely graduated from the University of Malawi in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering with Distinction.