[Africa Cloud Computing Review] Simon Ngunjiri Muraya: Looking ahead
The demand for cloud in Africa is growing rapidly. This demand has particularly been accelerated by the ongoing pandemic that has moved everything online.
With increasing connectivity and availability of reliable and cheap internet across the continent, it has changed the way people work.
Increased Cloud adoption
‘’Cloud is a leapfrog technology, comparable to the introduction of the mobile phone and we are just at the beginning of it. Especially now the pandemic we’ve seen a major uptake in the use of cloud-based solutions, by even the most traditional companies.’’ Dennis de Weerd, CEO at Incentro Africa, told Africa Business Communities during a recent interview.
Incentro Africa is an IT service provider delivering custom-built cloud-based software solutions for the European and African market.
Much of the hype around cloud in Africa is as a result of the adoption of high-end technology and software across different industries as well as advanced next-generation networks by telecommunications operators across different African countries.
‘’For instance, we migrated the Central Bank of West African States to Google Cloud based productivity suite Workspace in less than a week when a lockdown was looming. From working with traditional infrastructure from a central office to a highly secure cloud-based productivity suite that allowed their staff to work from home and boost their productivity with easy to use tools. So there are a few drivers here that boosted the uptake, but it was already unavoidable that this new way of working is the standard.’’ Dennis said.
Cloud computing and economic growth
Cloud computing has the potential to significantly bolster economic growth through the provision of cost savings and efficiencies, including the cost of management of data and security.
Africa’s cloud services industry may still be in its infancy, but it’s now showing signs of growth. According to Xalam Analytics’ The Rise of the African Cloud report, only five African countries were considered “cloud ready” in 2018. However, another 11 of the 20 remaining nations were “on the cusp” of being ready to adopt the cloud.
Looking ahead, there’re so many cloud computing that we expect to loom large, especially in 2019.
African Cloud Market
Forrester Research notes that the global public cloud infrastructure market will grow 35 percent to $120 billion in 2021, as the cloud continues to “take centre stage” in the recovery from the pandemic. In Africa, Xalam Analytics estimates that the continent's ICT industry will see its revenues surge to $2 billion by 2023, with the cloud leading this growth.
What does this mean for cloud service providers?
Dennis de Weerd, CEO at Incentro Africa: ‘’For us, it means we are substantially investing in technical knowledge and growing our team of certified Cloud consultants rapidly so we are ready when it does. It’s good to understand that when we started in Kenya there were no certified Google Cloud Architects in the whole country, so in order to offer this service, we need to train and certify talented technical consultants to do this work.’’
Demand for Data Centers
Africa is currently facing an uneven data centers deficit. More than two-thirds of the continent’s capacity sitting within South Africa. Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, and Morocco also have larger concentrations of facilities compared to most of the countries on the continent. Mauritius has an outsized number of data centers compared to its size and population, especially compared to neighbouring Madagascar.
Xalam estimates nearly half of Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic output and broadband connections are served by just 10 per cent of existing data center supply. The report says 15 countries have a deficit between 5MW and 10MW of data center capacity, with 20 facing a capacity deficit higher than 10MW.
“At the onset of a new decade, it is increasingly acknowledged that Africa needs a lot more data center capacity than is currently available,” says the Growing Africa’s Data Center Ecosystem: An Assessment Of Utility Requirements report.
Cloud and digital transformation
Cloud Computing empowers digital business transformation and for businesses to remain competitive, they must embrace cloud and other digital transformation processes.
The world is continuously evolving and African companies need to drive their activities to new forms of tech such as cloud.
Bottomline, as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) says in its Cloud Computing in Africa Situation and perspectives report, the experience of African countries to date points to cloud computing technology being used at different levels.
‘’Indeed, while a given administration may only now be preparing to introduce this new technology, it may well be the case that 50 per cent of the country’s ICT operators have begun to implement or are already using it’’