EXI: Turnkey IT Solutions for the Mozambican Public and Private Sectors

José Murta shares his thoughts on the IT sector in Mozambique and gives an overview of EXI’s core competitive advantages, main projects and IT solutions, challenges to be faced and medium term goals.

Interview with José Murta, Managing Director at EXI – Tecnologias de Informação e Comunicação

José Murta, Managing Director at EXI

What is your assessment of the IT sector in Mozambique? What can people expect from the IT companies working here?

I think the industry here is still very embryonic, although we have some multinationals with a strong presence in the country, including IBM, Oracle, Hitachi and Fujitsu. Solutions and services are available here, but of course, it depends on the customer making good use of this and creating business advantage as a result. That’s probably the driver that still needs to develop. But the IT sector is growing fast. Mozambique has opened to the world, so we have companies coming in, and I see it changing fast.

We do follow world developments, so in a sense the solutions available are quite modern solutions. I wouldn’t say the latest ones, but based on quite recent technology. That’s my perception.

The government plays a major role, but the business side of it also needs to be more mature, in order to generate higher demand for high-value IT services.

I’m very enthusiastic about the perspectives for our company in this environment.

What are the opportunities that you see arising here in your sector, relating to the development of the economy?

Our country’s economy is mainly based on services, which is also traditionally the case for our inland neighbours. But lately, we are seeing business opportunities arising from oil and gas initiatives, and it looks like this is going to grow. The government’s stimulus, along with the presence of oil and gas multinationals, has brought perspective to this new domain, and we have been closely attentive to the new opportunities, because they will surely need IT and associated services.

Although at the moment we are going through some kind of a difficult moment, I believe this will be overcome, as the economy enters a new and better phase.

What are EXI’s core competitive advantages?

Our core competitive advantage lies in the fact we are able to build modern applications based on new technology and we offer a turnkey solution. But we also try to understand something that is known nowadays as an ‘architectural approach’ in the implementation of these technologies, and in so doing, I believe we bring an innovative approach to our relationship with our customers, which should help us achieve greater visibility in terms of strategic relations between their business and what IT can do for them.

Who do you work with and what do you bring to this segment?

In order to do what we do, we can’t go alone. We have international manufacturers such as Fujitsu, Hitachi or Oracle, with whom we have maintained very close and strong relationships over the past 20 years. Our role here is to understand our clients’ business and their business processes, and build applications that meet their current requirements, as well as provide life-cycle management of such applications and the infrastructure in place. But we are backed by international providers of world-class technologies.

This combination, along with our local knowledge, and the capacity to build useful applications, is how we believe we offer good value to our customers.

What kind of client do you work with?

Over the years, we have developed a strong presence in the government’s systems. The government is attractive because it needs large systems, and the business model we adopted made sense in that context.

We also ended up developing applications for insurance companies. Emose, one of Mozambique’s foremost insurance companies, runs our operational software in order to support its operations. In that particular case, we provide a comprehensive solution, from the infrastructure, datacentre and operational support, through to the application itself.

Our core competitive advantage lies in the fact we are able to build modern applications based on new technology and we offer a turnkey solution.

We also offer Human Resources software for airline and telecom companies, as well as infrastructure solutions for some of these companies, mainly on behalf of the international suppliers I made reference to. We also have presence among sea transport and overland distribution companies.

We have some other smaller applications as well. Essentially, we develop custom-built applications and we then stay with the customer for the life-cycles of those products. This is basically our experience.

The private sector is something we are very interested in, because its purpose is different to that of the public sector. It faces greater day-to-day challenges, and it needs to be competitive. As a result, we are very keen to grow our presence in the private sector. Over the years, this has not been easy, mainly because many of the new companies come from outside so we still need to build some trust, and we probably need to be more visible to them. We need to work out how to achieve that. But that’s our main concern, so we are working on it.

You also work with the American government. Could you please shed some light on that?

I would say that’s a flagship project for the company, because it was very successful. The American government had a program in place to develop the North of the country and its infrastructure, where they sought to register 150,000 pieces of land, as well as distribute land use rights. This project required a software, for which they issued a tender. We won this tender and developed the application over a year to meet the project’s requirements. This application was to be controlled by a British company specialising in land matters, called HTSPE (nowadays DAI). It was a very successful project and it is still underway, in that we continue to provide service for maintaining the application through its life cycle. It all went very well and I believe that they were quite happy with our performance.

Are there any other large projects of interest you would like to share with us?

Our major projects have been with governments, and these are very interesting because they involve large databases, as well as keeping with the law, since government projects need to be sensitive to legal provisions. Therefore, the processes we implement on the application must reflect the law. As a result, these projects imply quite a specific way of doing things, and we have undertaken three such projects, out of the government’s six so-called ‘pillar projects’.

One of them, is the creation of the aforementioned land-management system, which is a very modern application that includes a Geographical Information System (GIS) and runs on a very powerful Oracle database environment.

But we have also built a system for the Police, called ‘e-Ocorrências’, which means that someone who goes to a police station can register, based on due process, as well as providing information centrally.

Another system that we built but which has not yet been implemented due to some difficulties, is called ‘e-NUIC’. What this does is provide certification from birth, when a person is registered; after which all of that person’s acts as a citizen are registered, through processes that are in full accordance with the law.

These are very interesting projects. Of course, they are necessarily linked to reforms, which means that there are some difficulties. This is a challenge we need to continue working on and we also need to be attentive to the opportunities for us to keep helping on that front.

What is your vision for EXI in the medium term?

One of our aims is to consolidate our presence at the government level in order to ensure our systems contribute to improving the country’s life, which includes easier conditions for doing business. You need to have reliable flows of information, as well as public workers discipline in providing services to the interested parties: other companies and businesses, other government institutions and the public in general. I think this is a major business opportunity and together we need to find the best ways in order to ensure this becomes feasible and sustainable. There is much to explore in terms of technology and the way we provide business models, etc.

At another level, we are aiming to grow in the private sector, particularly in oil and gas. We need to see what’s going to happen, but we believe we can offer good quality local services, based on generally accepted principles when it comes to providing these services; with service-level agreements and the like. We really want to aim for this business and we are waiting to see how things develop. In the meantime, we are proactively setting up relationships with international providers. We are currently deepening our relationship with Oracle, for instance, and we will continue to do so.

Of course, we would need to see things pick up on the oil and gas front, in order to be more explicit about what we are dealing with, the companies involved, etc.

Is there anything else you would like to mention?

We enjoy doing this, because we believe it’s very interesting. We try to learn about what’s going on in the world, current trends and what makes sense in this market, in order to blend in maturity and ensure sound interface interplay. It’s quite a challenging thing to do, to combine the technology with the organisation, networks and strategies. It’s an interesting business, which we thoroughly enjoy doing, and we believe that we have done some notable work, which we hope will be more economically useful and visible in future.

For more information, please visit: www.exi.co.mz

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