Cisco launches state-of-the-art Incubation Hub in Durban

05 April 2019

Image: Ribbon Cutting of the Cisco EDGE Incubation Centre the United States Consul General Sherry Z. Sykes and Minister of the Department of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Service Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams

Durban:Cisco South Africa today announced the launch of an R10 million state-of-the-art Incubation Hub in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. This is the second facility of its kind, built by the company, in South Africa and aims to develop SMMEs as well as speed up their entry into the digital marketplace. The hub called ‘Cisco Edge Incubation Centre’ is part of the company’s commitment to action priorities of the country’s National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 in terms of creating jobs, enhancing skills development and boosting economic growth.

“ As the government, we acknowledge that in order to secure the future prosperity of this nation we need to take advantage of the rapid technological changes, taking place around the globe. We welcome the establishment of the Cisco Edge Incubation Centre, here within the Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone.   We see it playing an important role of developing our people's capabilities in the areas of technology and innovation, we hope that this Incubation Centre, will be amongst the catalysts which will promote the growth of a thriving knowledge economy, that will drive socio-economic development and accelerate our competitiveness as the province of KwaZulu-Natal.”  - Says KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Mr Sihle Zikalala

The hub, which will be based at Dube TradePort, is a smart building with cutting-edge Cisco technology that offers complete business facilities including workspaces with high-speed broadband connectivity, video conferencing and collaboration platforms, as well as boardroom and training facilities. In addition, SMMEs will be able to connect with global Cisco experts, who can support them develop business ideas and concepts in a digital world.

Dube TadePort CEO Mr Hamish Erskine explained that the Dube TradePort is a renowned world-class special economic zone that enhances South Africa’s manufacturing and export capabilities, and supports airport-related activities including cargo operations, agriculture, warehousing and commercial real estate. It is geared toward promoting business growth, the creation of employment, revenue generation, the export of value-added commodities and the attraction of foreign and local investment. It is owned by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government.

“ We foresee the Cisco Edge Incubation Center having a huge impact on developing local business and entrepreneurs throughout the province of KwaZulu-Natal, enabling them to build their capacity to compete on a global stage.

‘The facility will also be one of the cornerstones, of the knowledge-intensive firms that include an innovation center, BPO’s and research facilities that we look forward to bringing into the Dube City precinct over the next 10 years, as we develop the core of what will become a smart city around the King Shaka International Airport.  These facilities will leverage off new and existing world-class telecommunications and cloud computing infrastructure which is available within Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone, we are proud to have been chosen as the location to host such a cutting edge business incubation centre.” - says Mr Erskine

According to the SME Landscape Report 2018/2019 by research company In On Africa, the small business sector is a critical component of the national economy, as it is a major source of employment that drives economic growth. However, the report – which surveyed over 1,000 SME owners -  also revealed that small businesses were young, vulnerable and in need of support. A key stumbling block was access to funding and access to the market. 52% of SME owners admitted that they needed a lot of assistance to reach markets as various industries were extremely competitive. As a result, many were failing in their first three years of operation.

“Our goal is to enable SMMEs to accelerate their growth by ensuring they get access to world-class technology.  We are living in a world that is changing faster than ever imagined and we are inspired by the prospect of an economy with abundant jobs, a place where entrepreneurs can thrive,” says Clayton Naidoo, General Manager for Cisco Sub-Saharan Africa.

“With technology comes many opportunities, especially in Africa, the fastest growing region in the world. Cisco recognises Africa’s talent and we want to continue being an enabler of tech ecosystems across the continent. With our resources, SMMEs are not only able to grow but also stay competitive.”

Dube TradePort CEO, Hamish Erskine, says the objective of the Cisco Edge Center is to create a circle of opportunity for unemployed ICT graduates and we plan to do this with an ecosystem of partners.  Representing the public Sector ecosystem will be SITA, who will work in partnership with Cisco to incubate SMME’s and ensure that they have the required skills to design, implement and manage government networks.  These selected SMME’s will have an equal opportunity to bid for SITA/ government ICT projects.

“The kind of facilities at this hub will give entrepreneurs the kind of head start they require to gain a competitive advantage. It will also help them stay ahead of the game in a tough marketplace while boosting economic growth for the country,” says Erskine.

The centre will provide SMMEs with the opportunity to employ graduates from its Networking Academy (NetAcad) program to give them workplace experience. Netacad is the world’s largest classroom giving students hands-on digital skills training for in-demand careers.  For 20 years, NetAcad has changed the lives of 9.2 million students in 180 countries. In South Africa alone, more than 62,000 students (29% of whom are female) have been trained with technical skills.

The name of the centres stands for the competitiveness that most of these small businesses lack to establish and sustain successful enterprises. It is this resilience that we are determined to arm them: Experience, Design, GTM (Go to Market) and Earn.

Issued jointly on behalf of Cisco South Africa and the Innovation Hub in Durban.