Arguably, any company with a growth plan needs to look at Africa as a potential business option, as it is one of the few places that are currently showing growth.  Business in the region is however very different, says Rory Twort, the Area Manager for Africa at AxizWorkgroup.  “The African business landscape is definitely more relationship-driven in addition to being extremely price-sensitive, and with more and more companies piling in, it is very competitive,” states Twort.

a leading IT infrastructure and software distributor, currently has branches in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia.  In addition, the company is presently negotiating further developments into Mozambique, Kenya and Angola. AxizWorkgroup is currently supplying Africa with hardware product brands such as Acer, HP, IBM, Samsung and Lenovo, as well as software brands the likes of Microsoft, VMware, Norton and Adobe.


“It is important to stay abreast of the legislative requirements of each country and also to understand the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations, which can impact profitability rapidly.  From an AxizWorkgroup perspective, we ensure that our branches not only abide by legislation, but we also prefer to employ locals from each of the countries we operate in. Not only does this afford locals the opportunity to assist in the economic upliftment of their own country, but it also helps us to better understand and deal with local business issues,” explains Twort.



“It is however crucial to do your research and to have solid financial controls in place before embarking on an African business venture”, says Twort.  “The money trail is certainly a great deal harder to track in Africa as you don’t have agencies and companies that can readily do a credit check on a prospective client.  Business transactions can be very large, and companies often find that they will not be insured on a transaction for the full amount or not insured at all.  It is therefore of paramount importance to have an airtight financial management system in place.”


Finding a balance between too rigid an approach to financial control systems and the building of a lasting relationship can be tricky though.  “It literally boils down to having sufficient country knowledge on your side that needs to be supported by a strong ability to build lasting relationships and trust.  People in Africa are generally great to deal with and the cultural experience is fantastic, but it takes time and presence in a country to gain enough of a foothold to comfortably partner with prospective clients,” says Twort.


The logistics of doing business in Africa is a complex dynamic that needs to be considered.  “By definition, you will be dealing with custom officials and varying country regulations on a regular basis, which in itself poses an element of risk.  Do you then deliver directly to the client or do the products become the property and responsibility of the client once it enters the country?  All of these logistical factors need to be considered and planned for when it comes to the establishment of a distribution network that works,” suggests Twort.


Keeping cash flow liquid in Africa is another challenge to contend with.  “Financial transactions are a great deal more complex in Africa, but very rewarding.  Some countries are quite prompt with their payments whereas you can wait up to 90 days for payment from others, which diminishes your profits in the low-profit market quite significantly. We also find that the government and parastatals in each of the countries are big drivers of technological business,” explains Twort.


The infrastructure within Africa is steadily increasing with connectivity improving a great deal.  Education standards, unfolding opportunities and the size of the economy in each of the countries act as a barometer to how Tech-savvy a country is.  “All the countries are however growing with leaps and bounds from a technological point of view, which provides a perfect platform for AxizWorkgroup to expand its footprint on the African continent,” concludes Twort.


About AxizWorkgroup

AxizWorkgroup is a leading IT infrastructure and software distributor that unites cutting-edge hardware and software. The company’s portfolio includes servers, storage, networking and communication infrastructure, desktop computers, notebooks, printers, PC components, virtualisation, security and infrastructure software. AxizWorkgroup has long-standing relationships with leading global vendors such as Adobe, Acer, Asus, Citrix, EMC, HP, IBM, Kingston, Intel, Logitech, Lenovo, Lexmark, LG, McAfee, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Samsung, Seagate, Symantec and VMware. AxizWorkgroup is a fully owned subsidiary of JSE listed Pinnacle Technology Holdings and is headquartered in Gauteng, with regional offices in the Eastern and Western Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. (

Africa, with its over 1 billion people, has reached a 13.5% Internet penetration rate, and there are plenty of big websites about the continent. But where are those sites hosted? It would be safe to assume that there are big sites about Africa hosted outside the continent, but we identified the top 100 websites actually hosted in Africa. In fact, 2,670 websites out of the world’s top 1 million sites are hosted in Africa.

You can find our complete study at

When it comes to webhosting, arguably the US and Candid Hosting Delhi in India are the go-to place due to their excellent service and also due to the variety of hosting platforms they provide. The different reasons for selecting a particular hosting provider are many, including price, functionality, reliability, and, of course, geographic location but for any new business, the best way to optimize finances for the future is by choosing for a Pay Monthly Websites from the very start. For example, it might be awkward for a local city council somewhere to host its website outside the country, although, sometimes, it may have no other choice.

We scanned’s top 1 million sites (you can read more about our methodology further down), and here are some quick facts revealed by our study:

  • 34 countries in Africa host one or more sites in the top 1 million.
  • These 34 countries host a combined 2,670 sites.
  • That means, 0.27% of the world’s top 1 million sites are hosted in Africa.
  • South Africa is the clear leader, hosting 1,852 sites, or 69%, out of the 2,670.
  • Egypt is in second place with 276 sites, followed by Morocco with 97 sites.
  • The biggest site is, hosted in Egypt, which comes in at position 632 in Alexa’s ranking.
  • Out of the world’s top 10,000 sites, only 33 are hosted in Africa.
  • Out of the world’s top 100,000 sites, 250 are hosted in Africa.

To get a sense of what sites are actually hosted in Africa, we focused on data for the 100 biggest sites. Here’s a breakdown of in which countries we can find the top 100 sites hosted in Africa, in alphabetical order:

  • Algeria – 1
  • Egypt – 22
  • Kenya – 1
  • Libya – 1
  • Morocco – 5
  • Nigeria – 4
  • Seychelles – 7
  • South Africa – 58
  • Sudan – 1

As you can see, South Africa hosts the most sites. In fact, 58 of the 100 biggest sites hosted in Africa can be found in South Africa. Egypt is in second place with 22 sites, followed by Seychelles with 7, Morocco with 5, Nigeria with 4, and Algeria, Kenya, Libya and Sudan each with one site.

Put in another way, South Africa and Egypt together account for 80 of the top 100 sites hosted in Africa.

If we look at individual sites, Egypt is taking the top two spots. The biggest site hosted in Africa is in Egypt, and number two is, also hosted in Egypt. Out of the top 10 sites, South Africa hosts five, with Egypt and Seychelles hosting the remaining 5. The biggest site hosted in South Africa is, which lands in the number 3 place in the top 100.

That South Africa is in the clear lead in terms of actually hosting websites comes as no surprise. What did surprise us, in a good way, was how many other African countries host one or more sites in the list of the top sites in the world.

Even though the percentage of big websites hosted in Africa is rather low, one encouraging conclusion we can draw from this study is that Africa is clearly capable of hosting busy websites, and not just in South Africa.

So often when we see Africa mentioned in the tech headlines, it’s related to mobile technology and how it has taken off across the continent. And that’s a great development, but it’s worth remembering that however great that is, it still requires backend infrastructure, including webhosting.

Therefore, it would be encouraging to see Africa making strides in this area as well, in the future.

About the data: The data was collected June 6-8, 2012, with a Pingdom-developed script that scanned 945,472 out of Alexa’s top 1 million sites. The remaining sites failed for various reasons. We then identified the top 100 sites hosted in Africa, and each of those sites was checked again before publication. We should point out that webhosting is a constantly moving target, so where a particular site is hosted may have changed by the time you read this.

Magnus Nystedt, Analyst –


Twitter: @pingdom

Pingdom is a company founded by Sam Nurmi. Sam Nurmi is also the founder and previous CEO of Sweden’s biggest web hosting company, Loopia, which he sold in 2005.

Pingdom has a very strong and narrow focus. That focus lies on covering the uptime monitoring needs of 90% of the companies in the world. Instead of branching out into other areas, we will instead place all our efforts into maintaining the best uptime monitoring service available.

The technology behind Pingdom is developed in house, which gives us an unparalleled ability to satisfy both the current and future needs of the market.

Timberland recently announced that it has launched an interactive in-store shopping experience using digital signage to help shoppers discover the great outdoors with Timberland gear, technologies and brand storytelling. 

The retailer worked with Apologue Experience Design Firm to create an interaction between product and digital signage innovation, which it said transforms “the typical retail touch point into a more meaningful communication tool that delivers relevant information and emotional branding to Timberland’s global consumer.”

According to the announcement from Timberland, Apologue, in collaboration with Automata Studios, Iron Claw and Audio, Video & Controls, designed a custom, open-source cloud-based HTML5 system that is able to dynamically retrieve remote data and create real-time, uniquely generated storytelling at every interface touch point, in every store at any location around the world. The systems allows Timberland to add and tag assets for immediate integration into the storytelling all around the world in real-time, while being managed and monitored from a central location.

Timberland said the aim of the interactive touch points is transcend traditional retail models by transforming the shopping experience into a dialogue between the brand and the customer. The system is designed to adapt, capture and learn from each store globally, providing unique, location-specific content to individual stores and inviting customers to provide meaningful feedback about Timberland products and initiatives that can then be converted into meaningful data for the brand.

Stores in Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S. are testing the system. 


The wealth of packaging possibilities offered by Fusion, Sappi’s most recent portfolio addition, will be highlighted at Drupa 2012. Designed for lamination to corrugated board, the premium-quality, high bright, white liner, delivers greater shelf shout helping brands ensure their products stand out from the competition.

Using 100% bleached virgin fibres, to ensure it is a spotless paper Fusion has been designed to bring out the highest levels of quality – regardless of the printing process – offset, flexo and digital. But what makes the grade stand out is its flexibility and suitability for a range of markets, from corrugators, litho laminators, display manufacturers and folding box converters to direct mailers, pre-printers, designers, agencies and co-packers.

By coating and calendering the paper, the Fusion surface offers a special quality and gloss much closer to the quality of content and display packaging therefore carrying a perception of higher-value-for money. Visitors will see for themselves how it can help brand owners, retailers, agencies and converters achieve a high quality result more cost effectively.

Key to this is its ability to produce unrivalled results on a lower grammage sheet, mirroring the market trend towards lightweighting. This will be among the benefits demonstrated by laminating machine manufacturer Stock (Hall 11 E22) throughout the show.

Product Manager Bernd Schuldt comments: “Stock will be running Fusion at 180 g/m² which is 50 to 60 grams lighter than the grades normally specified. This reduction in weight creates savings in the lamination process resulting in a more cost effective grade. It is also more environmentally friendly as it uses less raw materials.”

Visitors will also see for themselves the stunning results adds Mr Schuldt: “Clearly visible will be the optical advantages possible including high whiteness and brilliant color reproduction.”

Product information and samples will be available at Sappi in Hall 2 stand B37and Fusion’s outstanding qualities will also be communicated in an audio presentation.

Fusion is available in reel and sheets, at the same price, which provides another level of production flexibility and helps operations identify the most cost effective approach. It also guarantees no tearing at the edges and no cracking in the creasing area.

“In a typically conservative market where changing grades can be a complex and lengthy process Fusion is continuing to develop a core base of leading European corrugators,” Schuldt concludes. “We anticipate this moment will continue to build pace as more and more operations and brand owners realise improved quality and performance capabilities offered along with the cost savings achievable.”

Article courtesy of Sappi:®-Showcases-Shelf-Shout-at-drupa-2012.aspx


SMBs benefit from colour

SMB expert Melinda Emerson encourages colour printing, with five ways that colour can aid your business.

Small-to-medium business (SMB)  expert Melina Emerson has urged SMB owners via Xerox Newsroom to adopt colour, stating the use “could mean the difference between whether your marketing materials get read, or tossed into file zero – the trash”. To this end, Emerson presents five options in which colour can improve your small business.

Firstly, the SMB expert urges the creation of a specialist colour logo: “A logo must be simple and memorable […] versatile and appropriate […] You wouldn’t use an elegant font for a pizza joint.

“Always use at least two colours in a logo and hire a professional to assist you. Your company name in a stylised font is NOT a logo”.

The same principles apply when creating colour business cards, with Emerson again urging the use of at least two colours: “Even consider using a strong background colour to stand out. My business cards for my company Quintessence Multimedia are red, and people always comment on their uniqueness”.

Not necessarily a detail many will have considered, Emerson encourages the use of a smiling colour headshot: “You need a friendly, smiling headshot because, remember, you are selling yourself as much as your product or service”.

A commonly monochrome document for SMBs, one-sheet or two-sided flyers are encourages to be produced in full colour: “[Also,] considering glossy flyers, they always look more expensive and polished”.

Finally, Emerson states that direct mail should be produced in colour, querying: “Have you every received a black and white mailer from someone looking for business from you? What did you think about the business who sent it? Not much, right? Don’t make that mistake. Design a direct mail piece that represents you well”.

Emerson is steadfast with her conviction on the power of colour: “Putting it simply, colour gets noticed […] A recent Xerox Color survery reported that 76 percent of respondents said they could find information faster when printed in colour”. From the business owner’s perspective, “87 percent of respondents in a recent Xerox survey said professional graphics used in marketing materials […] was a key ingredient in the success of a product or service”.

Currently seeking “agents and distributors” to assist in expansion.

Remanufacturing franchise Cartridge World has announced an expansion into Africa, and is looking for agents, distributors and developers for assistance, How We Made It In Africa has discussed in a promotional feature.

The expansion has been prompted by a growth in the region’s PC market, which Cartridge World predicts will lead to an increase in printed documents and thusly in ink and toner cartridges.

Several advantages Cartridge World claim for franchisees include a “lower risk of failure/ high potential for growth”, “strong brand recognition and admin support” and “you are in business for yourself – but not by yourself”.

“Suitable individuals/companies” may also have the opportunity to be”develop retail stores and a distribution network as a ‘developer’ for a country or territory”.

GjK Retail and Technology recently released a summery of the South African IT Industry, citing an expansion in printer sales over the last 12 months, and Canon has recently re-entered the Kenyan market with a “Festival of Impressions”.



One of Apple’s most interesting marketing slogans was “Think Different.”

Steve Jobs purposely used this phrase to get people’s attention (some have questioned whether it uses correct  grammar or not) and drive home a message about looking at the world from a different perspective. In this case, Jobs was pushing one of Apple’s key ideas that people can change the world. And if you know anything about Apple’s history, you know that Jobs and his team believed Apple’s own mission was to use technology to change the world.

To Apple’s credit, their technology has been world-changing in the sense that products like the iPod, iPhone and more recently, the iPad, have made technology easier to use, easier to access and delivered personal computing in new ways to people of all walks of life. In fact, the iPad is literally redefining what personal computing is about and, along with the iPhone, has succeeded in making computing extremely personal.

While the iPod and even the iPhone have been groundbreaking in their own right, it is perhaps Apple’s iPad tablet that may have the most profound impact on the world of personal computing since it is the first computer that is truly portable and easy to carry with you everywhere you go. Yes, the iPhone and smartphones are more portable, but because of their small screens, their computing capabilities are limited. But with their larger screens, the iPad and similar tablets deliver much of the power of a laptop (minus the keyboard) and almost as much flexibility as you can get from bigger portable computers — but in a much smaller package.

Tablets are on track to probably be the most ubiquitous portable computers we will have in our homes and offices in the future. But to see this future, we need to “think different” about them. Today we see tablets like the iPad and similar ones from companies like Samsung, Acer and others as being operating system (OS) specific and brand specific. That is today, but in the future, that may not be the case.

If you look at any tablet when turned off, what do you see? It’s a blank screen. In this state, it is pretty worthless. But when turned on and connected to apps and the Internet, it comes alive and has great value. Many people will be willing to pay to have a specific OS and brand if they get extra value from what these brands offer them. But there is another scenario that could possibly be quite interesting for the mass market.

Because of my company’s consulting work, we have around 10-12 tablets hanging around the office or in our homes at any given time. Recently I found that I had about six of them around my house. They ranged from iOS-based iPads, Android-based tablets and even a Windows 8 pre-beta test unit, and they were in different rooms in my home for various reasons. One was at my bedside, one in the kitchen, one in the family room, one on the coffee table in the living room and two in my study.

At various times when I needed to use a tablet, I just picked up the one closest to me at that time. And while all had different operating systems and apps, they all had one important common denominator: a web browser. Multiple surveys show that when it comes to tablets, 50% of the time spent on them is using the tablet’s web browser.

Now think about how many apps you use that also have web app versions: apps like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others. While localized apps are great, if you have a connection to the Internet, the browser apps will work just as well. Yes, there will be apps like games and others that will work best on dedicated OS models, but web-based tablets could represent the real future of tablets, and they will be so cheap you could have one in every room of your house if you wanted to.

The reason they will be so cheap will be because of something called subsidization. We already have a good example of this with Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet. The Kindle Fire sells for $199, but sources tell us that the bill of materials (BOM) for the Kindle Fire is at least $215. Amazon is willing to sell it at $199 price because they expect a Kindle Fire buyer to purchase perhaps at least 10 e-books, rent at least five movies and buy various products from the Amazon store that the Amazon can amortize against the actual cost of the tablet and actually make a profit on it.

But Amazon doesn’t have a patent on this idea. For example, Walmart has many of the things needed to do what Amazon does: an e-commerce store for all of their products, digital movie rentals, and digital music sales. And in Walmart’s case, they also have the physical storefronts to back this up. They may count on the fact that their users will buy even more products from them if they own a Walmart tablet that makes it really easy to buy e-books, music, movies and products from their online store. They can also use it as an advertising vehicle for special offers. And in Walmart’s case, maybe they sell their own subsidized tablet for $99 — or in some cases even give it away for free with special promotions.

Take Proctor and Gamble as another example. They have over a hundred products they would like to sell you through their retail partners. What if they could get a reasonably priced P&G tablet built and branded for them, and then use it to drive promotions to users to help subsidize part of the cost of such a tablet. From the users’ standpoint, the web apps drive their broad content and apps needs, but by offering the tablet at a very discounted rate, P&G would have a captive audience willing to get ads in exchange for the discounted tablet.

Now this won’t happen anytime soon, since for this to work, component prices will still need to come down and inexpensive ubiquitous connectivity will have to be in place so the tablets can work inside the home as well as when away from Wi-Fi connections. Even with these low cost options, a product like Apple’s iPad will continue to thrive because of its versatility. And of all the options out there, it would perhaps be the top of the line model users could choose from.

But if you “think different” about tablets, you might be able to see a future where families could have four or five scattered around the house at their disposal — some subsidized by various vendors so that owning more than one is the norm. And while the operating system may still be important to handle localized apps for some users, the most-used feature will be the web browser and web apps tied to the cloud where most of your personal digital life will reside.

That is at the heart of Google’s vision for its own tablet that’s rumored to come out in July. I expect it to be low priced and to some degree subsidized by Google ads tied into their web apps like Gmail and search, which will be key to the Google tablet experience.

The bottom line is that today’s tablets are great and thanks to Apple, the role of tablets in our lives is being broadened now. But if you “think different” you will see that the tablets of the future will just be screens that use web browsers to connect us to everything we need from the cloud, and thanks to subsidization, they’ll be cheap enough that each room in our homes can have one. When you need to use a tablet, you’ll just pick up the one that’s closest to you.

Tim Bajarin is the president of Creative Strategies Inc., a technology-industry-analysis and market-intelligence firm in Silicon Valley.

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