Shahab Meshki’s move to KDN to enhance Cisco and Altech partnership in Kenya




The recent move by Mr Shahab Meshki from Cisco’s regional head office in Nairobi to head operations of Kenya Data Networks (KDN) could in the long run help to enhance the business collaboration between Cisco and Altech, which owns KDN.

In the first week of this month, Mr Meshki was appointed chief executive of KDN, replacing the firm’s former chief executive Rikus Matthyser who held the position for less than one year.

Apart from KDN (which has an optic fibre spread in most parts of Kenya), Altech also has stake in SwiftGlobal, an internet service provider (ISP). The Altech Group, which also owns Bytes Technology in South Africa, is reportedly set to acquire another Kenya-based IT firm Symphony.

KDN is a Kenya-based communications company that provides data and internet backbone solutions in East Africa. Classified as a “Full Service, Data Communications Carrier,” KDN was licensed by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) in January 2003 as a “Public Data Network Operator.”

In his new role, Meshki is to report to Tim Ellis, Altech Group’s executive in charge of Converged Services and will be responsible for creating the vision, business architecture and go-to-market strategy for KDN.

Mr Meshki’s move could strengthen the cooperation between the two firms because in South Africa, the head offices of Altech and from where Cisco’s sub-Saharan operations are run, another Altech subsidiary, Altron, is recognized as a key Cisco partner.

Robbie Venter, Altron chief executive said during an interview at the recent Cisco Expo 2011 event held in South Africa that “Altron is a Cisco gold certified partner” to which it provides systems integration services.

“Our partnership involves putting together pieces and solutions for clients. Cisco is key to us as it is a well known brand,” said Venter.

However, Carlos Marques, Cisco’s general manager for Emerging Africa, stated that Altech “identified the need for new skills at senior management level” and were “looking for skills around convergence, not traditional areas of technology.”

“Shahab’s move to KDN had no connection with our partnership with Altech. It’s always been part in his mind to move and this was a purely personal decision to allow him take on some new challenges,” stated Marques, who heads Cisco operations in South (apart from South Africa), Eastern and West Africa regions.

But some industry analysts are the view that Mr Meshki’s move from Cisco to KDN can be likened to the move Stephen Elop’s move from Microsoft to Nokia

Kenya Data Networks' satellites at a site

in early this year.

Mr Meshki  moved to Kenya in 2002 to establish Cisco’s presence in East Africa and as the firm’s general manager for East Africa, he was responsible for running the sales operation in Kenya focusing on Key Accounts in the Corporate, Government and Service Provider markets of the East African region.

After Mr Meshki’s departure, Cisco has not appointed a new regional head but has chosen to give the role to two individuals who acted as sales representatives – Gilbert Sagia (formerly head of service provider segment) and Raphael Standi (formerly head of commercial or partner-led segment).

“The two individuals have been elevated to lead the East African region. Shahab was there to come in and develop the structure then leave and let local talent take charge of the operations. This was meant to give an opportunity for local talent and expertise to grow,” noted Marques.

 

 




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