Pan-African XON turns 21 bolstered by $30bn shareholder

24 Oct, 2017
Carel Coetzee, CEO of XON

XON, the pan-African systems integrator closely aligned with NEC, celebrates 21 years of business that has culminated in a major solution for one of Africa’s biggest economic, social, and political issues to date: safety and security in a world dominated by physical and cyber crime.

The business began in 1996 around a core small networks and office support and maintenance service that has grown into carrier-class and enterprise networking, information management, information security, infrastructure, outsourcing and professional services, retail, education sector, and safety and security solutions.

“We have had to continuously evolve and reinvent ourselves with the rapid evolution of ICT,” says Carel Coetzee, CEO of XON. “That constant attention to customer requirements and market needs led us to acquire a new shareholder in NEC, a global technology giant with annual revenues in the region of $30 billion. And that means we now compete at a different level throughout Africa.”

“The partnership’s balance sheet affords us the opportunity to structure interesting deals across the continent where capital is not always readily available to meet the burgeoning growth demands of progressive economies,” he says. “There are particularly urgent and substantial requirements right now in many geographies for safety and security solutions and the holistic ICT infrastructure and services, with specialised security skills, to support turnkey delivery. The physical and cyber safety and security requirements of nations, as well as organisations, are exploding right now and there simply hasn’t been enough qualified resource to meet the demand.”

XON and NEC collaboratively created the Cyber Defence Operation Centre (CDOC) to meet the demand. It is a unique facility in Africa because of the full gamut of physical and cyber security services, big data analytics, and biometric technologies, backed by comprehensive ICT solutions and managed services.

The CDOC is built on XON’s established Network Operations Centre (NOC) for critical network performance in carrier-class cellular and data networks across Africa. And it is bolstered by the Managed Services Operation that supports and maintains robust infrastructure and services to run, manage, and secure world-class IT environments.

“We are now looking at potential acquisitions to accelerate growth, specifically in the safety and security space,” says Coetzee. “We are already diverse enough to be relevant to north of 80 to 90% of our customers’ needs as their requirements continue to evolve. But the economy is tough so we are pleased to see the seeds we sowed up to three years ago, in developing our alternative energy, cloud, and safety and security solutions and services, blossoming today. And we will strategically reinforce our capabilities.”

He adds: “Celebrating these and other successes, even the small, along with our exceptional ability to work as a team, encouraging and rewarding creativity that supports our continuous evolution and drive to innovate, have lent the business a can-do attitude from our people. Our people are our asset.”

He says XON will harness its 21-year success to help build safe cities to facilitate smart cities.

“We need safe cities first to deal with our most pressing modern challenges, the same infrastructure can be leveraged to create smart cities, a holistic solution to modern challenges,” he says.

Besides Interpol’s facilities, NEC operates a number of global centres of excellence combatting physical and cyber crime. They are in Japan, Singapore, Australia, Austria, America, and South Africa.

“We have harnessed NEC’s global competence combined with our local skill to broaden our security-as-a-service business model,” says Fryer. “NEC Africa is the African extension of NEC’s consolidated global intelligence and security services network. Extending our cyber defence capability to Africa continues our global tradition of combatting terrorism and other emerging global safety and security threats by integrating the physical and digitalised worlds.

“It is the integration of the physical and cyber worlds that makes us unique in Africa,” he says.

Bertus Marais, GM of Public Safety and Security at XON, says: “NEC’s worldwide technology heritage has culminated in advanced safety and security capabilities for countries that must protect multiple ports of entry, key infrastructure, the public, and public spaces currently under mounting pressure from terrorism and crime. Automated facial recognition, seamless, real-time big data analysis as emergencies unfold, and sophisticated biometric intelligence, among other capabilities, combine people and places in the physical world with the digital world of social media, the Internet of Things (IoT), and digitalised infrastructure. That gives agencies unparalleled opportunity to respond quickly, effectively, with limited resources, and provides powerful preventative opportunities.

“We complement NEC’s solutions by providing the full bouquet of systems integration necessary to provide a turnkey, end-to-end solution. That includes everything from the IoT cameras and other devices to the network connectivity and the back-end servers and platforms required to make this a one-stop solution. We combine that with our decade-long track record of successful operations throughout Africa.”

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