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Schneider Electric’s strategy for smart cities in Middle East and Africa

Smart, connected devices are being deployed in cities and industries globally to gather data and glean contextual insights used to achieve higher levels of efficiency and productivity.

In alignment with the fourth industrial revolution, in which IoT is reshaping societies, Schneider Electric has formed a strategy in a bid to refuel growth, boost organisational efficiency, and better leverage opportunities in the Middle East and African regions. 

Strategy in Africa

According to Caspar Herzberg, Schneider Electric MEA President, companies face connectivity challenges.

South Africa in particular has experienced challenges with regards to energy demand outstretching supply in cities, rural areas, and industries.

These challenges have drawn the attention of Schneider Electric and have led them to identify opportunities, which in turn have differentiated the company from other businesses who haven’t invested in Africa.

“On a global level, we are a highly-distributed company with a disproportionately large footprint in Africa in terms of sales and manufacturing, and we’re always looking for more ways to promote market growth,” said Herzberg.

As part of the strategy for Africa, Schneider Electric plans to focus their efforts on leading small and incremental innovations to stay ahead.

“Africa has been leapfrogging into digital, and we believe it will become more prevalent in the connected world, creating a massive opportunity for us as well as for African countries to lead themselves in digital transformation,” said Herzberg.

Schneider Electric also plans to focus on decentralisation.

“There is a trend in energy to go towards decentralisation, which means that energy is not only supplied by the utility – as would be the case traditionally, but also by people in villages by means of solar solutions,” said Herzberg.

Providing these regions with access to energy is important to Schneider Electric and is part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

“It is also a big challenge for the energy industry in general when bringing off-grid players onto the grid as the need for energy and software automation increases,” said Herzberg.

Schneider Electric has identified many opportunities with regards to their software automation that focuses on energy automation, and have received a lot of traction with the different utilities with high interest in implementing solutions that will help them deal with bringing off-grid players onto the grid and creating stability.

As part of the “bigger picture” behind the strategy, and as the industry shifts from the traditional way of doing business to the digital way of doing business, with Africa leading in this respect, Schneider Electric also aims to generate digital talent in Africa in order to move into other parts of the world.

Smart Cities

City managers ultimately aim to provide better services, affordably. In fast-growing cities this is particularly difficult, however.

Schneider Electric’s goal is to promote digitisation by building a smart ecosystem in cities to improve the quality of life of citizens and attract more investments for economic activities.

The challenges and opportunities identified within the Africa region allow Schneider Electric to better connect things while generating energy, which enables companies and cities to save enormous amounts of money, energy, and resources which are generally wasted as a result of poor control.

Schneider Electric’s IoT-enabled, plug-and-play, open, inter-operable architecture and platform, called EcoStruxure, provide services required to help businesses and cities plan ahead and improve the way they are managed.

EcoStruxure delivers innovation from connected products to edge control, and apps, analytics and services, on 6 domains of expertise – Power, IT, Building, Machine, Plant, and Grid.

The EcoStruxure platform is the backbone on which Schneider Electric solutions are built and delivered. The platform enables embedded connectivity and intelligence using standards-based communication protocols, and the ability for smart devices to perform native analytics and make controlled decisions.

It assists developers, system integrators, and engineering staff in building applications such as monitoring, visualisation, and control systems for implementing smart operations across the enterprise.

Caspar Herzberg, Schneider Electric MEA President

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Schneider Electric’s strategy for smart cities in Middle East and Africa