Early in February, Africa appeared on our blog with the news on the 2.300.000th connected unit. This region is very important to Wialon, as many African companies participate in challenging projects and have thousands of units connected to our platform. In this article, we want to share the insights we got during our trip to Kenya in the fall of 2019.
Aliaksandr Kuushynau, Head of Wialon Division, and Olga Filonchuk, Head of International Business Development Center, together with their colleagues, headed off to the Securex exhibition. They didn’t only visit the event but also took the opportunity to meet their partners.
Like any other region, Kenya has its peculiarities associated with economic challenges, the mindset of African peoples, geography, and specific conditions of the continent itself. Of course, all this impacts the industry of telematics, as well.
“I had a strong feeling that it’s very important to visit each of our subregions personally. So we decided to start with Kenya. We only knew some bare statistics about our Kenyan partners. And even though statistics are important, face-to-face communication gives you a different view of doing business.
We had two reasons to go to Africa – to participate in Securexpo East Africa and meet our partners in person. Everything worked out perfectly,” Olga Filonchuk remarks.
Gurtam in Nairobi
Aliaksandr Kuushynau says: “Shortly before, we visited our Philippine partners. That proved to be the right format. So we are going to a region to get a better understanding of it, help our community members grow, and visit those who aren’t planning to go to Minsk yet.
At least a dozen African companies attend Telematics every year, but we’ve never had one from Kenya.”
The subject-matter of the exhibition was security. Mostly, it was about physical safety like hiring guards for business centers, offices, private houses, banks; installation of alarm systems, electric fences, fire protection systems, etc.
Andrei Liatsetski presents Wialon to a potential partner during Securexpo
Another way to use Wialon in Kenya is to monitor the guards: whether they are patrolling the territory and controlling the checkpoints. The collected data is analyzed, and reports are generated later on. This approach is quite popular, yet experienced Wialon partners claim that fleet monitoring will outweigh guards monitoring in the long term. The reason for such prospects is the fierce competition in the sphere of physical security and decreasing workforce costs.
By the way, we have a mobile app for staff monitoring called WiaTag. It can be used not only for security purposes but also in any other sphere implying control of mobile staff performance.
We visited 15 companies and learned about how they do business. We also dived into a market situation. The subjects of the discussions were mostly the same.
Thus, local partners:
want to know more about Gurtam
“Our company is a dark horse for many of our partners there, as monitoring isn’t a core business for all of them. So, we are just one of the service providers more or less known to those who work in the industry for quite a while, but not to everyone,” Aliaksandr says.
All our partners are not novices. They have been doing business for many years. However, they learned a lot of new information about us, e.g., the number of employees and the location of our offices. Of course, we covered some other topics, too. Now our partners are familiar with our working processes and can always rely on our assistance.
have a lot of questions about Wialon
Andrei Liatsetski, the Wialon implementation consultant, ran individual and group sessions on Wialon technical details for the operating staff and other kinds of specialists.
Kenyan telematics market is relatively new. However, integrators go beyond basic monitoring and offer more advanced functionality. Wialon is a sophisticated system that is perfect for Kenyan users at the current stage of market development. That’s why training is so critical at the moment. Good proficiency in the system helps not to miss the possibilities provided by this sector that is aimed at complex projects.
Wialon training session
are large security companies
“The scale of companies surprised us. The number of employees in some companies amounts to several thousand or even tens of thousands with offices not only in Kenya but also in neighboring Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Mozambique. These offices are quite autonomous, but the central department is located in Kenya,” Olga says.
A great majority of the partners are, first of all, integrators who specialize in the guards monitoring; vehicles and cargoes security.
Three out of the four largest integrators in Kenya work with Wialon. Almost all the protected houses, offices, and other buildings in Nairobi have logos of these companies on them.
They have their operations control centers working 24/7. Their size is impressive, as well as the organization of internal processes and cutting-edge systems of access control.
We can highlight several tendencies of development here:
A company can provide security services not only for buildings but also for people, vehicles, and cargoes. The latter is given special attention here in Kenya.
To understand how far Kenya is a trendsetter in the field of security, you should know that in Congo, for example, they use physical obstacles to secure cargoes. In brief, trucks are tied with iron chains and fastened with locks.
According to the Convention, vehicles in Kenya carrying any valuable cargoes should be equipped with electronic locks. If the cargo is highly valuable, a transport operator should apply two or even three locks. Sometimes, different cargo companies are responsible for different sections of the road. This may happen when a truck is changed on the way or goes to another country with another carrier.
Kenya Revenue Authority regulates all the processes. It has six certified dealers which provide security during cargo transportation. One of the dealers is our partner’s parent company.
Gurtam visits Secutec Limited
Bank microfinance is yet another sphere providing clients for our Kenyan partners. Here we mean bank loans for personal car purchasing. As a rule, a bank launches a tender, chooses several integrators, and sends all the clients to them for GPS trackers installation in their newly-purchased cars. As the clients have to pay a loan for another three years, monitoring is mandatory for them.
Often a partner is responsible for the risks associated with the situations when bank clients don’t repay a loan and refuse to give a car back. For example, if a GPS tracker fails, the payment may equal 10% or even a full cost of a car. Considering all this, many monitoring providers in Kenya prefer to work with reliable Wialon.
Speed-limiting devices are trending in Kenya. Just a while ago, these devices couldn't send any data, but in 2019 the carriers had to install them together with an integrated GPS module. This measure was aimed at increasing security on the roads. According to our partners, the total market amounts to 600.000 units. Some integrators working with Wialon have already certified their own devices. By the way, the Gurtam HW department is currently working on creating a hybrid of a GPS tracker and a speed-limiting device. So the partners won’t have to worry about the integration of such devices with Wialon.
Considering the current circumstances, Kenyan partners are doing an excellent job. For a good reason, there are so many blue dots in this area on the map of Wialon units.
“We would have never realized the full potential of this market if we hadn’t visited it. We understood that our partners need training for further development. So we had an idea to send our Wialon implementation expert to Nairobi, let’s say, for a month. Thus, he would be able to provide a technical team of every partner with two or three-day individual training and fully dive into their working processes.
Besides, Kenyan partners are not that much involved in the Wialon community, so they’re missing many of its advantages. We tried to improve this right away. For example, we added them to the partner chat, and some of them started to text at once sharing their experience and asking about equipment,” Olga says.
“European technologies are highly valued in Kenya. People want to live better and safer lives, so those technologies help them to solve real problems, while smart cities are of no interest to them right now. Yet today, it is a country with good potential for running a business, as twenty largest hotel chains are building their hotels there, and oil was discovered there as well.
This country definitely has a bright future. I’m sure the dynamics of unit growth in Kenya will be ahead of the average one in other African countries,” Aliaksandr says.
We hope to visit more regions in the near future, so we can learn not only about our partners’ issues but also celebrate their success. Do you want us to visit your region? Contact your regional manager, and we’ll discuss that.