So we previously wrote about how Liquid Telecom are becoming more and more involved in the African tech ecosystem by partnering and supporting tech startups and hubs that house them. They have just announced a new partnership with Afrilabs, a network with more than 100 tech hubs in 30 African countries and a membership of above 200 000 entrepreneurs.
This partnership will see the telecoms giant give connectivity to all the hubs in the Afrilabs network within the countries that Liquid has presence. Cloud services will also be available through Liquid Telecom’s partnership with Microsoft. Startups within the hubs will be able to access the Azure platform.
Liquid’s partnership with Microsoft now more important for startups
I always had reservations about the partnership between Liquid Telecom and Microsoft as far as startups were concerned. The issue for me was that Microsoft has for a long time been more about enterprise and their orientation has been towards enterprise and not startups. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself but being part of a startup myself I have sometimes experienced a disconnect between our needs and the proposition from enterprise focused tech giants.
The partnership of Microsoft and Liquid Telecom on the other hand made sense because Microsoft has a much bigger presence on the African continent than any equivalent provider of cloud services and of course Microsoft products like Office which is now available on the cloud as Office 365 are already the most known solutions for businesses in Africa. So the partnership did make sense because Liquid themselves are the largest Pan African connectivity player. However, I remained skeptical about Microsoft being good for startups.
This has changed! A few weeks ago, Microsoft purchased GiitHub the go to platform for developers. GitHub gives Microsoft an interesting entry into the startup world. This is the most exciting news viewed from the context of the partnership between Liquid and Microsoft and the very deliberate focus by Liquid on the startup sector.
Why is Liquid Telecom doing this?
Liquid Telecom is basically supporting its customer of the future and locking in that relationship early. This is a win-win-win for them, the hubs and the startups. It is, in my book the best strategic stance if you are selling cloud services. The reason why startups are called startups is that they have the potential to scale. Liquid is establishing the relationship before scale and even supporting the startups to get to scale and when they do the startups will be utilising Liquid infrastructure and offerings like Azure.
Every cloud service provider wishes they had been the ones to have a relationship with Facebook or Netflix before scale, Liquid is making sure they have a relationship with the next Facebook and Netflix on the African continent.
Scale will be made easier for African startups
The frustrating thing about the African continent is that it is chopped up and scrambled up. For you to achieve the startup kind of scale you have to cross a few borders. This can be very difficult especially when you are a busy startup that has no experience in the bureaucracy and red tape that comes with crossing border lines. Liquid is already Pan African hence some of these problems will already be solved for you if you are a startup that has a partnership with them.
Liquid Telecom is also extending digital skills training to the Afrilabs startups. This is critical and quite helpful to enabling the mission fulfillment of the hubs.
A word from Liquid Telecom
Ben Roberts, the Liquid Group CTO had this to say:
Liquid Telecom is passionate about scaling start-ups across Africa. Through our Innovation Partnerships initiative, we’ve already supported many inspirational start-ups over the last year, who are using technology to help solve African problems. This new partnership with AfriLabs will really help push our initiative to the next level – both in terms of raising Liquid Telecom’s profile within Africa’s tech ecosystem and improving our ability to support the region’s start-ups with the resources they need to successfully bring solutions to market