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Airtel Africa announced this week that its B2B provider, Airtel Business, has partnered with Cisco to provide secure internet access to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa.

The aim is to support their digital transformation journeys, reports from Nairobi said on Wednesday. The partnership bundles Airtel Africa's fixed connectivity solutions with Cisco Umbrella, a cloud-based, plug and play security solution. 

The combination will secure businesses' online transaction channels. Initially, the solution will be available in Kenya, Uganda, Congo Brazzaville, and Madagascar. It is expected to be rolled out later to the rest of Airtel Africa's markets. 

As SMEs adopt these platforms, they face a fast-evolving array of digital threats- from surveillance to critical infrastructure disruption and delays due to cyber attacks and malware. Therefore, there is a need to protect them and their customers.

Luc Serviant, Airtel Business group enterprise director, said: “Internet penetration is rising across Africa and systems are even more connected as the digital transformation drives growth among organisations."

Servant said the Airtel Business-Cisco partnership supports SMEs and entrepreneurs across Africa with their end-to-end digital presence and a secure, reliable internet to protect them from foreign attacks. Cisco Umbrella is a single unified security service that reduces the complexity of monitoring and managing threats and alerts, he pointed out.

Umbrella ensures fewer infections, which in turn means less remediation time and less downtime which in turn leads to cost savings. Umbrella converges DNS Layer Security, Secure Web Gateway, Cloud Delivered Firewall (CDFW), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) and Interactive Threat Intel.

All these systems are powered by Talos, the largest privately owned threat intelligence agency globally. These services can be consumed via the cloud, providing a Secure Access Secure Edge (SASE) architecture which can also seamlessly secure SDWAN deployments. 

Vikas Sharma Client Partner at Cisco, said: "We are excited to partner with Airtel Africa to deliver this fast, flexible and effective security solution to businesses in the continent.

"It combines multiple security functions enabling businesses to protect devices, remote users and locations everywhere. This is what SMEs in Africa need as they embark on their digital transformation journeys."

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