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HCL Infosystems to spread wings in Africa

Indian firm to expand its operations in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda in the first quarter of this year

Gulf News

Dubai: HCL Infosystems, the Indian technology major, said the company will expand its presence in Africa, especially for products such as tablet computers over the next one year as tablets are growing at a much faster rate than computers.

“As of now, the company is present in South Africa and Egypt. Now we want to expand our operations to around 5 countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda in the first quarter of this year,” Srinath Nagarajan, Business Head of Mobility Business Unit at HCL Infosystems MEA, told Gulf News.

He said 2012 was a very good year for HCL. The regional market is expected to grow by 40 per cent this year. “We want to grow to 15 per cent this year compared to 12 per cent last year,” Nagarajan said after the firm launched three new seven-inch tablets with 2G, 3G and dual SIM cards.

According to the research firm IDC, total tablet sales in the Middle East and Africa this year are expected to be five million unkits. By 2016, tablet sales in the MEA will more than double to 11.6 million units.

“Tablet purchases in the UAE are prolonging the PC refresh cycle. Right now, tablets are cannibalising sales of computers in the region,” Fouad Rafiq Charakla, research manager at IDC MEA, told Gulf News.

This year, around 767,854 tablets are expected to be sold in the UAE, mainly fuelled by original equipment manufacturer brands, and it will cross one million by 2015. Total tablet sales in 2012 in the UAE are around 559,000 units.

“We are keen to explore ties with telecom operators in the region. In Qatar, we have time to time promotions with Qtel. We will have some promotions with Etisalat and Du in this quarter,” Nagarajan said.

He said media tablets contribute about 35 per cent to the HCL MEA’s business.

“As the bring your own device [BYOD] concept is gaining traction in this region and as the enterprises are trying to cut costs, the $250 price point range will gain importance in the future. Enterprises are not only looking for hardware, they are also looking for software integration into the device. As we are into hardware and software, that will give us a big plus point to play in the enterprise side,” he said.