Dr. Nobuhiro Endo
Chairman of the Board of NEC Corporation (NEC)
JAPAN and the WORLD spoke with Dr. Nobuhiro Endo, Chairman of the Board of NEC Corporation (NEC) to learn more about its vision and business activities in Africa.
—Could you describe NEC’s vision and the direction it is pursuing?
NEC announced a plan in 2013 to focus on “Solutions for Society” and the enhancement of social infrastructure, which represented a major shift in our business direction. The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) assets that NEC has cultivated encompass the three areas of computing, networks, and software which create solutions. These three areas leverage ICT’s basic attributes of being “real-time”, “dynamic” and “remote”. We are fully mobilizing our expertise and capacities in these three areas and attributes to enhance social infrastructure in order to resolve various future issues the world will face and achieve our aim of providing value to society with “Safety”, “Security”, “Efficiency” and “Equality”.
We have established seven themes for social value creation. They are: a Sustainable Earth, Safer Cities and Public Services, Safe and Efficient Lifeline Infrastructure, Communication (which is essential in society), Industry Eco-Systems (which connect ICT and industry based on the Internet of Things), Work Styles (to create more diverse work styles), and an Enriched Quality of Life.
Our vision is using the power of ICT to support social infrastructure as a whole to resolve social issues. We see ICT as a means to contribute to society.
It is our fundamental vision to contribute to the realization of a safe, secure, efficient and equal society under these 7 themes by maximizing the power of our ICT assets.
—How is NEC contributing to Africa’s economic growth?
The power of ICT is growing rapidly. We need to keep in mind social trends and issues when we design solutions using our ICT assets. Looking ahead, our world will see population growth and urbanization, and it is projected that in 2050, twice as much energy will be needed. 1.7 times more food and 1.6 times more water will be needed as well. Our vision is using the power of ICT to support social infrastructure as a whole to resolve social issues. We see ICT as a means to contribute to society.
The same vision applies to Africa. There are many areas where we can make contributions through ICT for the issues that the African economy is facing. We view these areas as one of our major challenges and where we can support African economic development using the power of our ICT assets.
NEC established NEC Africa (Pty.) Ltd. in the South African city of Johannesburg in 2011. Following this, we opened branch offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Lusaka, Zambia, and established our subsidiary, NEC West Africa, in Lagos, Nigeria.
We also plan to introduce our ICT-based contributions in the areas of safety and security as a main topic at the TICAD VI being held in Nairobi, Kenya. An unstable country will not be able to attract investment or people, nor ensure a sustained human development necessary for a socio-economic prosperity. Therefore, ensuring safety and security at the level of social infrastructure forms the basic building block of national economic development. We believe that our contributions to safety and security will play a vital role in Africa.
—NEC has been doing business in Africa since 1963. What potential do you see in the African market? How is NEC developing business in Africa?
Business in the ICT field today does not choose a location. Take the software field, for example. While the African continent is far from Japan, we can still achieve business development using ICT in Africa.
Society itself is comprised of our customers, which is what sustains our existence as a company, and we must fully understand the society where we conduct our business.
We must make efforts to have NEC be recognized as a company that creates value for Africa, otherwise our economic activities will not bear fruit.
Gaining an understanding of African society from Japan has been an uphill challenge. Our overseas branches must fully perform the role of our base for the respective region, understand the local problems, and customize our products for these problems, or we will not be able to provide products and services that fit the region. We believe that value creation in its true meaning should be done locally. The conventional way of just bringing products to another region will not lead to sufficient economic activity in Africa going forward. Based on this thinking, we intend to further strengthen our local organization led by NEC Africa based in South Africa.
—Is NEC preparing for TICAD VI or conducting activities for it?
As I mentioned, we believe that we can make contributions using ICT in the areas of safety and security, and we would like to promote this capability at the event. Further, we also believe that we can add value to existing safety and security systems in Africa by providing innovative ICT such as video analytics and biometrics identification. Our cutting-edge biometrics technologies include facial and fingerprint identification technologies, which are both evaluated as the world’s No. 1 in the tests conducted by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST). We can offer these ICT solutions to contribute to the sustainable economic growth, and realize an inclusive society in Africa, where equal opportunities are ensured and people can achieve their full potential in life.
We can offer ICT solutions to contribute to the sustainable economic growth, and realize an inclusive society in Africa.
—What are some ways NEC is partnering with local African companies?
We are very fortunate to have subsidiaries and branches now in South Africa and a stake in local systems integrator XON Holdings. We are working to expand business through collaboration with our local partners. Building a beneficial relationship with local partners is key, and we are committed to continuing our collaboration.
We are working to expand business through collaboration with our local partners. Building a beneficial relationship with local partners is key, and we are committed to continuing our collaboration.