October 27, 2021

Spotlight on the Middle East and Africa

In this week’s blog we continue to meet RFS’s global teams and get their thoughts on the latest trends and priorities for their markets. Middle East and Africa spans over 70 countries and encompasses a population of over 1.7 billion with connectivity a huge priority. We caught up with Hesham El-Nahhas, General Manager Middle East and Africa at RFS to get a snapshot of what is on the horizon.

Hesham Hesham El-Nahhas, General Manager Middle East and Africa

Can you give an overview of the telecoms landscape in the Middle East and Africa?

It is a hugely exciting and varied market to be involved in. The region is vast and takes in areas that are both at the cutting edge of 5G and smart city technology, and also areas that are focusing of rolling out complete, reliable 2G, 3G and LTE coverage. This means that more than any other market, there is a real benefit to local teams with specific expertise that allows us to help operators tackle the particular market challenges they are facing. 
There is good reason for operators to be excited by the region; despite the pandemic telecoms revenue in MENA is expected to grow by $1.5 billion by 2025 and the LTE market in sub-Saharan Africa is exploding, driven by a growing demand for data. So, despite the diversity in the specific demands that vary from country to country, the takeaway for the market as a whole is that it is one poised for significant growth over the next few years. 

How does RFS manage the variety of demands within the region?

We focus on ensuring we have local expertise capable of delivering the needs of operators within MEA. We split our team into three clusters in the region; Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Africa. This allows us to provide our customers with cutting edge solutions informed by our in depth understanding of market challenges and work with them to find solutions that soothe pain points and drive ROI. 
Take our Dubai and Saudi Arabia clusters for example, we have a much more significant focus on Smart City solutions as there is a growing demand by operators in the region. In addition to commercial telecom networks, we also maintain a strong focus on public safety and critical communication infrastructure which is a priority across multiple markets. With our enriched end-to-end solutions, we were able to build an important part of the infrastructure needed to support events such as the Expo 2020 in Dubai and FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

What are some of the most interesting projects RFS has been involved in across MEA?

There are a huge variety of projects as we’re working on with over 20 tier-1 operators across more than 40 countries, both directly and our network of channel partners and local SIs. Recently and especially in light of the logistics challenges businesses across the globe have been facing, it has been fantastic to be able to deliver projects with very short lead times as a result of having RFS local HUB  in Dubai. For example, a large in-building solution (IBS) project with a delivery time of 7-8 weeks needed to be expedited and delivered within 7 days. We were able to build the stock and the material flow model to meet that customer demand within the much-shortened time frame.

We’re seeing lots of exciting projects with our BSA antennas expanding coverage across countries in Africa. A particularly interesting recent example is with Orange affiliates in North and West Africa, and also in Angola.  Likewise, our Microwave Antenna solutions are delivering high performance connectivity across both the Middle East and Africa and are being deployed by leading OEMs as a turnkey solution. 
Public Safety is a real strength of RFS technology as a world leader, but to be involved in projects like the Doha Metro ahead of the world cup and expanding public safety infrastructure is particularly interesting for our Middle East teams. 

Last but not least, we’re working with broadcasters; partnering with key OEMs to provide the infrastructure needed for both TV and FM stations keeping our teams nice and busy with a real variety of projects.

What does the future hold for RFS?

The fact that RFS has such a broad portfolio of solutions that have been customer centric in their development means we have lots of activity on the horizon. We’ve seen a boom in demand for in-building solutions and 5G ready technologies within our Dubai hub and we have recently bolstered our team to meet demand. Our Saudi team is set to work on big infrastructure projects as customers across the region are looking to build the connectivity infrastructure to support smart cities. In Africa the demand for coverage and more and more data coverage will be a real focus for our BSA market expansion in the region. We don’t see the hectic and varied days for our teams across MEA changing any time soon! 

If you would like to hear more about how RFS is working to provide solutions for operators and broadcasters across MEA, get in touch with Hesham El-Nahhas, General Manager Middle East and Africa