Masahiro YoshikawaMasahiro Yoshikawa

The multinational has officially opened the doors to its local subsidiary

At the beginning of this year, NEC celebrated the launch of its local subsidiary, NEC Africa. The company officially began operating in December last year, but thought it prudent to hold the reception at the beginning of 2012.

The subsidiary is headquartered in Johannesburg, and led by the president, Masahiro Yoshikawa.

Although this was the official launch of NEC Africa, the 112-year-old Japanese multinational had been operating in Africa for some time.

“NEC has been working in Africa for more than 50 years,” says Toshiyuki Mineno, NEC’s chief global business officer. The company’s interest in Africa mainly lay in the telecoms market, says Mineno. “We were selling our product, which we brought from Japan. Manufactured in Japan, brought from Japan, and sold to African carriers,” he says.

The new subsidiary, NEC Africa, aims to diversify the company’s portfolio in Africa. “We want to integrate IT and network technologies, and bring proper solutions to African customers,” he says.

There was a liaison office in Johannesburg, but Yoshikawa says a liaison branch is “just a communication window between Japan and Africa”, and no longer suits the company’s goals for Africa. “Our management decided to establish a Pty as a permanent solution in SA,” says Yoshikawa.

NEC Africa is one of several subsidiary companies distributed across the world. NEC has divided the globe into five regions: North America, Latin America, China, Asia Pacifi c and EMEA. The EMEA region has headquarters in London, at NEC Europe.

The EMEA division contributes over 1 billion euro in sales, and has over 1 400 employees.

NEC Africa, says Yoshikawa, will “act as sub-regional headquarters to cover the 48 sub-Saharan countries”.

NEC also wants to establish West African and East African subsidiaries of NEC Africa, in Nairobi and Lagos.

“We have a branch in Nairobi,” says Yoshikawa, “under the name NEC Japan, established in 1984.” In the near future, the Nairobi office will be an NEC Africa branch. The company also wants to establish a footprint in West Africa. “We are busy establishing an NEC Africa subsidiary to Lagos, Nigeria under the name of NEC West Africa. It will be launched this coming April, we are busy with registration,” says Yoshikawa.

Current activities in SA for NEC are varied. “We are supplying our wireless infrastructure systems to telecoms operators and mobile operators. We are also supplying postal automation systems to the South African Post Office, as well as TV transmitters to ,” says Yoshikawa.

In addition to that, the company is supplying fingerprint identification systems to The . “Your fingerprint is registered in our systems already,” he says.

While these are the main concerns for NEC in SA presently, the company is hoping to contribute to the South African National Development Plan Vision for 2030, presented by National Planning Commission chairperson in November last year.

The plan outlines 13 areas of focus for the country: the economy and employment, economic infrastructure, transitioning to a low carbon economy, inclusive rural economy, positioning SA in the world, human settlements, education, innovation and training, health, social protection, safer communities, building a capable state, promoting accountability and fighting corruption, and transforming society and uniting the country.

Similarly, NEC Africa has found seven areas of opportunity for its technologies in the NDP. The first of these is transport. A report by Eugene le Roux, deputy MD for NEC Africa, says SA will be focusing on the increase in public transport initiatives. NEC Africa will be focused on broadband connectivity for public transport systems, and number plate recognition and billing to support .

NEC Africa will also look at technology to detect abnormal vibrations in water pipelines to prevent leaks, as well as filtration systems for the acid mine water challenge.

To aid the transition to a low carbon economy, NEC Africa introduces its smart city solution, where various systems optimise energy consumption.

NEC Africa believes its wireless, and Femtocell technologies provide opportunities to network providers to improve coverage and service for ICTs.

The education goal can be supported by NEC’s cloud education solutions, which allow remote classroom sessions. Various NEC technologies can also be applied to healthcare improvement, such as telemedicine and e-Pathologist. NEC Africa also believes it can aid in building safer communities with its various biometrics solutions.

“This is a very big challenge,” says Yoshikawa, “but without commitment and contributions to the countries, we can not survive and we can not succeed.”