French Co. Looks to Expand in Southern Africa

International telecommunications software and consulting services provider Sofrecom is looking to bolster its services throughout southern Africa.

The French company, which is a subsidiary of France Telecom, already achieves 90 percent of its one billion rands (US$164 million) annual turnover in international markets, a figure which it is looking to grow through operations in southern and eastern Africa as well as South America.

Franck Freycenon, sales and marketing manager in southern Africa for France Telecom Sofrecom, says: "We have a variety of reference sites throughout the world some which include San Salvador, Argentina, Czech Republic and Indonesia.

In Southern Africa we have five main references including Botswana where we work for a mobile operator, Mauritius, Madagascar, TDM Mozambique and Telkom SA."

The company broke into the SA market in 1994, when it was awarded the contract for the implementation of a CCBS solution for Telkom, with its GIRAFE customer care and billing software. The project was officially completed in 1998, and now consists of one national and 22 regional databases which deal daily with queries and consolidated invoices.

"We provide a range of end-to-end services covering engineering, standard consulting, and IT applications. Our services extend over these to training as well.

"We have a very different approach to the provision of software. We provide the same application for everyone, and work with the client to customize it for their needs. With this solution we find it easier to provide global and standard patches, as well as maintenance solutions. Telkom is a good example of our ability to customize software, as together we redeveloped the GIRAFE solution almost completely to meet their requirements."

Additionally Sofrecom is in the process of upgrading the Telkom GIRAFE system through a maintenance contract. It is also in the process of fixing any hidden bugs, before they may pose a future problem.

"When you implement a new product, especially when it is mission-critical, it is important to ensure seamless integration with all existing systems that may impact upon the service of the said product," he adds. The quintessential service provided by the company is training of staff. Freycenon, believes that a product is only as good as the people operating it, a difficult paradigm in a country where staff are difficult to attract, and even more difficult to retain.

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