Haruna Nyanzi is the managing director of the Kampala-based Sombha Solutions, an information and communication technology provider. He spoke to The Independent’s Ian Katusiime about how the young company is setting itself apart in a rather competitive industry.
What is your management style?
I believe in clear goal sharing, where we have the freedom for technical innovation and go through debates before we actually find solutions for clients. We ensure that for any actual solutions, we have articulated them to fit into what we want them to be.
One of your services is infrastructure analysis. What does it entail?
Most clients have specific text based solutions. We at Sombha believe in clearly defining a solution that a client want. We set out to establish what you are trying to achieve; is it transmitting some packages? Do you want to do some accounting? Etc. We sit down and analyse a situation so that we define the solution options with the customer. This is how we build a solution based relationship.
The market is saturated with firms providing cable and fibre connectivity services. How does Sombha aim to stand out?
We are more of a service oriented company and our major focus is on service. We just don’t want to come in and just deliver a service. If you are looking at internet cables there is more than just bandwidth. If you come to me and you say you have a problem with your accounting, say it is hosted in Dubai or the US, how I help you achieve what you want through the internet is what makes us stand out. Understanding a client’s problem is what makes us different.
People complain about slow broadband speeds in Uganda. What is extent of the problem?
There is more to it than just bandwidth. Let’s say you want a Wi-Fi connection, what product are you using to achieve or deliver this? The product is one of the bottlenecks and so we ensure that our products are stress tested by the time we roll out into the market.
For instance, we have just delivered a video conferencing on wireless at a function with the American Chamber of Commerce. We did that for one and a half hours of video conferencing from Washington to Kampala.
We have other products that can deliver the same service and you wouldn’t believe its wireless. Product is one of the things you have to look at. If you choose wrong combinations, most likely the quality will match the cost of purchase but the service won’t be that great whether delivered over fibre or wireless.
Corporate firms across the world are facing cyber-attacks. How are you guarding against this?
Given that we are service oriented, it is all about educating our customers. We ensure that our clients have pre-checks and do some basics like updating their Windows and fix security patches. So we inform our clients on everything. But the end user has to also take some initiatives to ensure he/she is well educated about this.
What challenges do you face in this sector?
Price wars and infrastructure access. Firms like us don’t have access upcountry. Laying fibre over a distance of 5km could cost you about $3,000. So we have to rely our services on other service provider’s infrastructure.
Where do you see Sombha Solutions Store in the next five years?
The beauty is that, we are growing quite fast. We see ourselves as ever more customer focused and as a premium provider of service and voice based solutions both for end customer portfolio and telco grade customers. We will also be adding hotspots to our service portfolio.